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December 9, 2002

Benefits added, extended

By Eric Rangus

Benefits come to Emory employees in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are lobbied for. Other times they come about with a simple call.

A new offer for Emory employees to join AAA at a discounted rate is an example of the latter. Representatives of the auto club contacted the Emory Employee Discount Program last month and offered up a deal.

Emory employees could join AAA for 14 months and be charged for the 12-month rate of $56. They also would receive the full list of member benefits as well as some special gifts—a travel atlas and hotel directory, to name two—upon signing up.

“We haven’t really advertised this much, but word has been getting around,” said Heather Green, who helps administrate the employee discount program, which is operated out of the purchasing office. Green said the information about the AAA discount available to Emory employees will be posted to the program’s website ( later this month.

That website lists the many deals for which Emory employees are eligible simply because of where they work. They range from hotel discounts to special bank accounts to lower costs on film developing. Students also can receive these discounts.

To sign up for the discounted AAA membership, contact Nancy Kaye at 404-723-8057.
In time for this fall’s open enrollment, Human Resources rolled out another new benefit for employees and their families—long-term care insurance. Provided by UnumProvident, the benefit offered between $1,000 and $6,000 of monthly long-term/nursing home monthly benefits for eligible participants.

Unlike other University benefits, however, long-term care was not of-fered to same-sex domestic partners on the grounds that doing so would violate Georgia law.

Upon being informed of the situation, the President’s Commission on LGBT Concerns took action. In late October, the commission sent a four-page memo to University administrators.asking for contacts at Unum, specifically anyone who determined that long-term care coverage could not be offered to domestic partners, and copies of the cited law preventing insurance extension.

In the memo, the commission cited a 1999 decision by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob ruling against Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who
had issued a directive stating insurance coverage of same-sex domestic partners was contrary to Georgia law and public policy.

Shoob called his refusal to approve domestic partner coverage for Atlanta city employees “in excess of his statutory authority, arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of direction and not in accordance with the law.”

After receipt of the memo, Human Resources approached Unum again to press the issue. HR invited commission chair Kathy McKee to attend a conference call that included benefits director Mary Smith and Unum representatives.

McKee again was told that the long-term care policy had not been approved to cover same-sex domestic partners in Georgia, but exceptions could be granted, and Unum could apply for one.

That’s what happened. Unum was granted an exception, and under that exception, domestic partners now are eligible for long-term care benefits.

“It was something that wasn’t right,” McKee said. “We felt very strongly about it and needed to see if something could be done.”

“Our intent all along was to offer this benefit to SSDPs,” said Alice Miller, Vice President for Human Resources. “We were disappointed that despite repeated requests, Unum was unwilling to pursue the possibility with the State of Georgia. With LGBT’s assistance, we were able to convince them such an initiative was appropriate and substantiated. Working together, we all made it happen.”