Actors’ Fairness Calls For Evaluation Earlier than Fairness-League Well being Fund Adopts Harder Eligibility Guidelines – .
Actors’ Equity urges the Equity-League Health Fund’s union trustees to withdraw their support from a plan that is making it difficult for theater performers and stage managers across the country to qualify for health care when legitimate theaters reopen.
The Health Fund, which provides health insurance coverage to thousands of attendees and their loved ones, said changes to the licensing rules announced today are necessary as the loss of revenue from the closure of theaters “has dramatically impacted the fund’s financial position.” (The Health Fund is a separate entity from Actors’ Equity and is governed by a board of trustees appointed equally by Equity and the Broadway League producer trading group.)
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Currently, participants who have worked 11 weeks over six months or 19 weeks of the year are eligible for health insurance. The deposit announced today, however, that as of January 1, 2021, it will move to a three-tier plan that requires participants to work at least 12 weeks to qualify for the lowest proficiency level; 14 weeks for the next level and 16 weeks to qualify for the top level.
“With most of the members out of work since March, the past six months have been one of the toughest we’ve ever faced. We recognize the emotional and financial pressures you face, “the fund said in a statement to attendees today, noting that” 88% of the Equity League health fund is funded by employer contributions. “
“Although most employer contributions to the fund were discontinued at the time of work, the trustees are looking for ways to provide meaningful coverage to as many participants as possible,” the statement continued. “The Trustees worked with the Fund’s professional advisors to see how this could be achieved. After examining many different approaches, the trustees came up with a solution that reconciles reasonable coverage with the long-term sustainability of the fund. “
You can find the new plan of the fund here.
In response, the Actors’ Equity Council – the union’s governing body – passed a resolution instructing the fund’s union trustees to waive the changes pending further investigation into the effects on union members.
“Recently the council became aware that the Health Fund was preparing to announce plan changes,” said Kate Shindle, president of Equity. “The more we learned, the more concerned we became that the Health Fund had not done enough work to determine how these changes would affect our members. To this end, the council passed a resolution instructing the union’s trustees to withdraw support for plan changes and postpone today’s announcement until a demographic survey is conducted. “
“I am deeply frustrated,” she said, “that today’s announcement was made against the will of the council and that no study has been returned to the council on how these changes might affect our members facing attitudes bias.” We all know that there is no way out of the devastating loss of month-long employer contributions across the country and no alternative but to adjust the plan. However, I believe the Fund had both an obligation and financial resources to take the time to make better decisions. “
Before the new plan is passed, the Equity Council wants to see a study of how the changes will affect participants living outside of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and the potential harm – and remedial measures – that can be found to lessen the harm – for pregnant participants and those who are black, native, and colored.
The SAG-AFTRA health plan, which is faced with astonishing deficits, will also increase the approval requirements on January 1, 2021.