News

Wheelhouse Weekly – May 01, 2003


THE MASTERS, MATES & PILOTS’
WHEELHOUSE WEEKLY

– Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use –

Volume 7 . . . . . Number 18. . . . . May 1, 2003

STORIES COVERED

ALSO

REMINDERS




 

PRESIDENT BUSH DECLARES END TO IRAQI COMBAT

President Bush declared an end to combat in Iraq tonight on Thursday, May 1, in a speech to the nation from the deck of the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN. The carrier, which has been at sea four months past the usual six-month deployment, is currently steaming home to San Diego from the Gulf.

As expected, Bush stopped short of a formal declaration of victory since the US is still seeking hard evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and sporadic resistance continues.

“Americans prayed that war would not be necessary and now pray that peace will be just and lasting,” Bush said early on Thursday at White House ceremonies to commemorate the annual National Day of Prayer. His speech from the LINCOLN will not amount to a formal end to hostilities, but it sets the stage for the US-led operations in Iraq to focus on reconstruction.

Bush, once a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, is scheduled to land on the LINCOLN aboard an S-3B Viking plane dubbed Navy One. With the president sitting up front next to the pilot, the plane will be caught on the carrier’s flight deck by an arresting cable.

The S-3B Viking is an all-weather, carrier-based jet aircraft, providing protection against hostile surface combatants. Extremely versatile, the aircraft is equipped for many missions, including day/night surveillance, electronic countermeasures, command/control/communications warfare, and search and rescue (SAR).

It will be a rare experience for Bush because presidents who visit aircraft carriers usually arrive by helicopter. A White House spokesman said that the jet landing would be safer than a helicopter, “because of the ability to eject.”

There are more than 5,000 US personnel aboard the carrier who launched 16,500 sorties against Iraq as well as Afghanistan.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

MAERSK DEEMED ELIGIBLE FOR MSP AGREEMENTS

In response to a request from Maersk Line, Limited (MLL), the Maritime Administration announced on April 29 that “with respect to the vessels it owns and operates, Maersk qualifies as an eligible transferee” of Maritime Security Program operating agreements from US Ship Management (USSM).

MM&P-contracted USSM presently holds 15 MSP operating agreements that were originally awarded to Sea-Land Service, Inc. and transferred to USSM at the time of the sale of Sea-Land’s operations to Maersk. The Maritime Administration concluded that since Maersk and USSM were each awarded operating agreements under “priority one” of the Maritime Security Program, Maersk is an eligible priority one transferee of the USSM operating agreements, even though Maersk is a “documentation US citizen” and USSM is a “section 2 US citizen.”

The MARAD decision does not mean that the 15 operating agreements held by USSM have been or will be transferred to Maersk. For this to occur, an application for transfer has to be filed with the Maritime Administration, and the Maritime Administration would then have to rule on the application.

In a letter to the Maritime Administration, the MM&P along with the AMO, MEBA, and SIU expressed support for MARAD’s decision. If the operating agreements are transferred to Maersk, the MM&P and the other unions presently aboard these vessels will continue to crew these ships for at least the duration of the MSP operating agreements.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

FUNDING FOR MSP GARNERS STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

Calling the Maritime Security Program (MSP) “highly effective in reducing the overall costs to the federal government while maintaining our sustainment shipping capability for the Nation’s defense,” full funding for the MSP for Fiscal Year 2004 has received strong bipartisan support in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Spearheaded by Senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Breaux (D-LA) they, along with 28 of their Senate colleagues, have sent a letter to Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, and General Government of the Senate Committee on Appropriations expressing their support for the MSP and urging the Subcommittee to appropriate $98.7 million for the Program.

This figure is identical to the amount appropriated for Fiscal Year 2003 as well as the Administration’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2004.

An identical letter, spearheaded by Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Ike Skelton (D-MO) in the House of Representatives, signed by 62 of their colleagues, has been sent to Congressman Ernest Istook (R-OK), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, Postal Service and General Government of the House Committee on Appropriations.

In explaining the importance of the Program, these 94 Members of Congress stated that the “Maritime Security Program guarantees that US-flag commercial sealift and merchant manpower will be available in time of national emergency; that the commercial operators will participate in ongoing military exercises to assure a high state of readiness; and that the worldwide intermodal transportation networks, marine terminals and management personnel of these private companies will be available to meet the needs of our Nation’s military sealift strategy.”

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

USE OF SEALIFT OVER AIRLIFT RESULTS IN $168M SAVINGS

During remarks before a National Defense Transportation Association luncheon in Washington, DC, Air Force Brigadier General Henry Taylor reported that as of mid-March, the use of sealift rather than airlift during the war in Iraq has saved taxpayers over $168 million.

Gen. Taylor, who has served as Vice Director for Logistics, Joint Staff, since July of last year, gave high praise for America’s sealift effort, pointing out that waterborne carriage was responsible for 90% of cargo support filtering into Central Command.

Although the US Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) did not find it necessary to activate the Voluntary Intermodal Shipping Agreement (VISA) during the recent conflict, Gen. Taylor nevertheless, stressed the importance of VISA to the Defense Department’s overall sealift capability, “as it provides insurance and depth in the event of multiple contingencies.”

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

SPECIALIZED RESERVISTS ABOARD SOME MM&P-CREWED MSC RRF SHIPS

Naval reservists specially trained in underway replenishment are working for the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) helping resupply combat ships supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The reservists comprise Cargo Afloat Rig Teams (CARTs) that are working aboard the MSC ammunition ship USNS KILAUEA and modular cargo delivery ship SS CAPE GIBSON of the Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force (RRF). The vessels are crewed by civil service mariners (CIVMARS) including licensed deck officers that are MM&P bargaining unit members.

These CARTs assist the ships’ crews during underway replenishments and are usually assigned to ships that have been outfitted with a Modular Cargo Delivery System. The MCDS is a 46 1/2-foot tower placed on the main deck of a ship that allows a cable to run between the supplying ship and the customer ship. When the cable is connected, the supply ship can transfer cargo to the customer ship across the connecting cable.

USNS KILAUEA is generally kept in a reduced operating status. KILAUEA does not use a MCDS because the ship was built with underway replenishment towers. The CART aboard KILAUEA helps the ship’s crew perform underway replenishments.

Ships that have the MCDS on board become doubly useful to Military Sealift Command because they can function both as point-to-point cargo carriers and as fleet auxiliary ships that take supplies directly to warships, allowing the combatant fleet to remain on station for longer periods.

“This is a valuable program for MSC and the Navy,” said Vice Adm. David L. Brewer III, Commander, MSC, in Washington, DC. “These reservists help transform cargo ships into combat logistics force ships,” said Vice Adm. Brewer. “With a specially trained CART crew aboard, these ships can do double duty.”

The reserve units were developed following the Gulf War to assist the merchant crews assigned to RRF ships for replenishment operations. When activated, these ships come under the operational control of MSC and support US Navy missions.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

MM&P TO BE REPRESENTED AT AFL-CIO TRADE SHOW IN PITTSBURGH

The 2003 AFL-CIO Union-Industries Show, the largest exhibition of union workers’ skills and services displaying millions of dollars worth of union-made, American-made products, will be held at the Pittsburgh Convention Center, May 2-5.

MM&P’s Director of Special Projects Richard Plant and International Representative Capt. Mike Simonsen will be manning the MM&P booth during the show.

This will be the third time in the Show’s 65-year history that it will be staged in Pittsburgh. In recent years, the Show has evolved into an educational forum to provide participating unions the opportunity to showcase the skills and expertise of their members and the value they add to their communities and lend to the nation.

“The American Dream – Union Made” is this year’s theme. Exhibits by unions and companies with union-represented employees will cover floor space the equivalent of over four football fields.

Showgoers who have ever wondered about what goes through a firefighter’s mind as he or she enters a burning building, or what is involved in producing the special effects for a science-fiction movie, or what it’s like to be an electrician, a merchant mariner, a welder, or a bricklayer, will be able to get their questions answered.

Considered by many as the largest career Expo in the country, it provides young people with a great place to get a first-hand look at the wide range of good jobs that are available for those who prepare for them.

Scores of attendees will take home valuable prizes ranging from cars to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, big-ticket appliances to groceries and other giveaways. Admission is free. Produced by the AFL-CIO Union Label and Service Trades Department, the exhibits, demonstrations and prizes offer something for everyone. Show hours are 1100 to 1900 May 2-5. For more info go to their website at: www.unionindustriesshow.org.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 

NATIONAL MARITIME DAY TO BE CELEBRATED MAY 22

The annual National Maritime Day celebration in Washington, DC will be held on Thursday, May 22. The ceremony will begin at 1030 at the US Navy Memorial.

MITAGS will provide transportation, however, an accurate attendee count is required. Transportation for MM&P members in the area is available on a first-come basis. Contact MITAGS Exec. Assist. Brandi Jones at 443-989-3237 by Monday, May 19.

The bus is tentatively scheduled to depart from in front of the South Residence Tower at 0830. Additional info will be provided as details become available.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

FBI DIVERTS CRUISE SHIP TO HONOLULU

Last week, a Hilo, Hawaii-bound cruise ship was diverted to Honolulu after two threatening notes were found in a ladies restroom, the FBI said. According to the FBI’s Honolulu office, the handwritten notes contained vague threats against the ship, its passengers and crew.

The LEGEND OF THE SEAS had been en route from Ensenada, Mexico, with an estimated 2,500 passengers and crew members when it was diverted. The ship was anchored about a mile off Sand Island where security sweeps for bombs or other threats were conducted.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 

MITAGS ACADEMIC NOTES

Class Openings

Between now and the end of June, seats are available in the following courses:

  • 5/10-11: MSC-DC
  • 5/12-23: GMDSS
  • 5/12-16: CMM-CHS II, FF-ADV
  • 5/16-17: MSC-DC
  • 5/19-23: ROP
  • 5/23: CBRD-1
  • 6/2-27: MED-SMC
  • 6/2-6: COMP-ABSS, T-PIC
  • 6/9-12: SEC-ShpOff
  • 6/14: MED-DOT-DA
  • 6/16: CBRD-1
  • 6/17: MSC-ENVPRO
  • 6/18: MSC-ATER
  • 6/19-20: MSC-DC
  • 6/23-27: SHS-EMR5, COMP-MAR, CMM-MPP
  • 6/27: CBRD-1

Check the MITAGS website for descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations.

 

MSC-DC Class Added

Two-day MSC Damage Control class has been added to the MITAGS schedule for the weekend of May 10-11.

 

Small Arms Training Off-Site

Due to the waiting list for Small Arms at MITAGS, additional off-site training opportunities are temporarily being arranged at MSC sites for eligible members. In order to be eligible, members in good standing of the Offshore Membership Group must have 360 days of covered employment with a company or companies contributing to the MATES program. Classes will be scheduled at San Diego, CA, Virginia Beach, VA, or Freehold, NJ.

All training must be arranged through MITAGS. For further information and quotas, contact either Mike Wein 443-989-3238 or Debbie Walton 443-989-3224.

 

All Chief Mate/Master Courses Now Approved

With the recent approval of 35-hour Advanced Watchkeeping, all courses identified in NMC Policy Letter No.04-02 as requirements for advancement to Chief Mate/Master are now approved for presentation at MITAGS.

The courses are identified on the MITAGS schedule with “CMM” as part of the course title abbreviation.

 

Schedules, Course Info & Registration

Courses are subject to change. Always check the MITAGS website for updated course availability. You can also check future schedules, review detailed course descriptions and register on-line or contact Admissions at admissions@mitags.org or by calling toll-free, 1-866-656-5568.

 

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 

PMI ACADEMIC NOTES

Maximo Course for CSX-Horizon Masters and Mates

The Pacific Maritime Institute (MITAGS West) will be offering a two-day program in the Operational Use of Maximo presented by Bruce Sherman. The course will be an introduction to the Maximo program as used by Horizon Lines LLC (formerly CSX Lines).

This course will be appropriate for any Master, Mate or Engineer who sails on Horizon Vessels. It will be particularly relevant for those who are sailing as permanent or relief, Chief Mate, or First Engineer. The course runs May 5-6.

Horizon will be covering transportation to and from Seattle for all eligible MM&P and MEBA Members. Please contact PMI if you have questions regarding eligibility at 888-893-7829 (toll free) or 206-441-2880.

Program Catalog Available

That Pacific Maritime Institute’s latest Vocational School Catalog is now available. It contains the latest info on PMI’s new programs that will assist mariners in upgrading from OS to Master Mariner.

Detailed booklets for Entry Level, AB to Mate, and Mate to Master can be downloaded at PMI’s website.

Call for details at 888-893-7829 or download the PMI course schedule with descriptions from their web site at www.mates.org.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

MM&P MARKET WATCH AS OF 5-01 CLOSE

 D O W

 N A S D A Q

 8,480.00

-35.60 for the week

 1,464.31

 -1.85 for the week
 Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)

 84.73

 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)

19.63

 Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)

 12.34

 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)

 11.83

 Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)

 21.62

 Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)

10.72

 Vanguard High Yield Corporate Fund (VWEHX):

 6.19

 Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)

 10.43

 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)

13.04

 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)

14.30

 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)

 31.33

Fidelity Magellan Fund (FAGX)

 82.99

 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)

  32.51

 

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



~ Reminders ~


 


 

MM&P HQ MEMO TO ALL OFFSHORE MEMBERS AND APPLICANTS

Effective for employment commencing on or after April 10, 2003 and until further notice, any Member or Applicant who is known to have shipped as a Licensed Deck Officer aboard a vessel under contract with another labor organization shall lose his/her shipping card and be required to re-register prior to seeking employment with MM&P.

Members and Applicants are advised that such action jeopardizes their standing in Masters, Mates & Pilots. Members and Applicants are urged to contact MM&P if they are solicited for offshore employment by other labor organizations. Any Licensed Deck Officer employment with other labor organizations must be dispatched through Masters, Mates & Pilots.

 

See below for additional information about shipping out on RRF and surge sealift vessels.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

MSC OPENS TOLL-FREE SHIP STATUS AND LOCATION SERVICE

Concerned family members of mariners serving aboard any Military Sealift Command and government-owned or chartered ship can now check on a ship’s status and general location, toll free. “Our mariners’ families are part of the MSC family too,” said Vice Admiral David Brewer III, commander of MSC. “We are proud to offer this information during these uncertain times.”

Family members of mariners who dial 1-888-SEA-LIFT (732-5438) and press 2 will be put in contact with a MSC employee who can tell them in general terms where the ship is operating and its general status.

This hotline was available during the first Persian Gulf War. Vice Adm. Brewer said he hopes that it can be used along with other forms of communication to keep family members informed.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

 


 

TAX RELIEF FOR OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM CIVILIAN MARINERS

Qualified merchant mariners serving on vessels under Department of Defense operational control in direct support of US Armed Forces have been determined by the IRS to be eligible for the benefits of section 7508 of the Internal Revenue Code. 26 U.S.C. §7508.

This includes individuals, (including the spouse of such individuals) serving in the combat zone as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom aboard Maritime Administration and Military Sealift Command owned or controlled vessels.

Mariners are advised to consult their tax professionals with respect to the impact of this relief with respect to their individual situations.

Only mariners serving in the combat zone are covered. At present, the combat zone for Operation Iraqi Freedom is defined as follows:

  • Persian Gulf;
  • Red Sea;
  • Gulf of Aden; and
  • Gulf of Oman;
  • That portion of the Arabian Sea that lies north of 10 degrees north latitude and west of 68 degrees east longitude; and
  • The total land area of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Section 7508(a)(1) permits the postponement of certain time-sensitive acts for individuals serving in support of the Armed Forces in a designated combat zone. Activities specifically mentioned include the filing of tax returns, the payment of income, estate, or gift taxes (except employment and withholding taxes), tax claims filings or bringing suits for credits or refunds, filing any petition with the US Tax Court, making a qualified retirement contribution to an IRA, or performing any other act listed in Revenue Procedure 2002-71.

Detailed information can be obtained by consulting Publication 3 Armed Forces’ Tax Guide (2002 Returns). The Guide can be obtained by contacting the IRS or from the IRS website, www.irs.gov.

These benefits are afforded to the spouse of a qualified individual without any requirement that the individual and spouse file a joint return. Taxpayers within the US may seek assistance by calling the IRS toll-free at 1-800-829-1040. Taxpayers outside the US may call the IRS in Philadelphia, PA., at 215-516-2000 or via fax at 215-516-2555 (these are not toll free numbers).

More detailed info can be found on the MARAD website at: marad.dot.gov/Publications/employment/marinertaxes.html.

For MM&P members at sea who might have difficulty accessing the MARAD website, the MM&P Communications Department will Email this info to you upon request. Email requests to: communications@bridgedeck.org.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

LATEST USCG INFO ON PRIORITY SYSTEM FOR MMD CARDS

Applications for Merchant Mariner Documents can no longer be completed entirely through the mail. Applicants must now appear in person at a USCG Regional Exam Center to prove their identity and provide fingerprints. The following priority system has been implemented:

  • Priority One is assigned to mariners who are, or are about to be, employed on a vessel directly involved in a military operation. A letter from a shipping company, labor union, ship management company, or government agency attesting to the ship’s military purpose and the mariner’s position is needed for this priority.
  • Priority Two is given to mariners who are actively sailing. Evidence of current or scheduled employment on board a vessel, such as a letter or recent certificate of discharge is needed for this priority.
  • Priority Three is for all other transactions based on date of receipt.

Contact the National Maritime Center for additional info or questions at 202-493-6798.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 


 

IMPORTANT RENEWAL INFO ON USCG DRUG FREE CERTIFICATES

Mariners renewing their license or Z-cards should be aware that some USCG Regional Exam Centers are now only accepting the “Drug Free Certificates” from Greystone Health Services or other USCG approved drug testing agencies. Any other drug test certifications will no longer be accepted.

Upon request Greystone will send duplicate “Drug Free Certificates” on their own stationary to members and applicants so that they can satisfy the USCG. Request forms for this purpose are available at MM&P West Coast ports, which is where this USCG demand is now being enforced.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


 

SHIPPING-OUT ON SURGE AND RRF VESSELS

Members and Applicants are reminded that in order to receive pension credit, vacation and other benefits for sailing aboard a surge sealift or Ready Reserve Fleet vessel in support of U.S. operations in Iraq and neighboring areas, you must ship through a MM&P hall in accordance with instructions provided to each Union Hall.

Members and applicants are asked to protect their benefit status and, for applicants, their applicant status. Shipping aboard these vessels in any other way will not ensure that benefits will be passed through to MM&P Plans.

Applicant points will be awarded only for assignments shipped through MM&P offices.

You may direct any questions regarding this issue to:

  • Capt. Banks: gbanks@bridgedeck.org; phone: 410-850-8700 ext. 21
  • Capt. Boatner: dboatner@bridgedeck.org; phone: 310-834-7201
  • Mike Rodriguez: mrodriguez@bridgedeck.org; 410-850-8700 ext. 23
  • or to the Vice President in your area.

     

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


     

    MSC SMALL ARMS TRAINING AVAILABLE OFF-SITE

    Due to the waiting list for Small Arms at MITAGS, off-site training will temporarily be arranged at Military Sealift Command sites for eligible members. In order to be eligible, members in good standing of the Offshore Division must have 360 days of covered employment with a company or companies contributing to the MATES program.

    Classes will be scheduled at San Diego, CA, Virginia Beach, VA, or Freehold, NJ. All training must be arranged through MITAGS.

    For further info, contact either Mike Wein at 443-989-3238 or Debbie Walton at 443-989-3224.

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


     

    LIST BEING DEVELOPED OF ORIGINAL MATES PROGRAM GRADUATES

    International President Capt. Tim Brown reports that,

    “For almost a year the staffs at MITAGS and the MM&P HQ have been working to collect the names of the graduates of the original MATES program. Inasmuch as record keeping in the late 1960s was not as streamlined or efficient as it is now, this was a large task that was done as time permitted.

    “We are now close to finalizing the list of names that we generated from several sources.

    “So, you might ask, why are we doing this? There is an old saying that goes along the lines of, ‘You don’t know who you are unless you know where you have been.’ This brings us to the point:

    “MM&P is considering having an Original MATES Program Graduates’ Reunion sometime in the early fall of this year.

    “We will be printing a list in the MM&P paper of all those that we have so far determined were graduates of the original MATES Program. We encourage all graduates to verify that their names are listed and to also let us know if we’ve missed anyone who is a graduate but whose name is not on the list.”

    MM&P Headquarters will also be sending out a letter to the graduates to assess the level of interest in having a Reunion weekend at MITAGS. MM&P would be able to provide for a discount for rooms at MITAGS, with the International subsidizing the cost to some degree. Again, this would probably depend on the level of interest in this project.

    Please watch the MM&P paper closely in the future if you are an original MATES program graduate.

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


     

    HEALTH & BENEFIT PLAN CHANGES EFFECTIVE APRIL 1, 2003

    The following Health and Benefit Plan changes went into effect on April 1, 2003.

     

    INPATIENT HOSPITAL DEDUCTIBLE

    All inpatient hospitalizations (both PPO and non-PPO) will be subject to the Annual Major Medical Deductible ($250 individual/$500 family) and an additional inpatient deductible of $150 per admission. Both the Annual Deductible and the $150 inpatient deductible count towards the individual out of pocket maximum of $3,000.

     
    REIMBURSEMENT FOR INPATIENT HOSPITAL EXPENSE

    The Plan will pay 90% for all PPO hospitals after satisfying Major Medical deductible and $150 per admission inpatient deductible. The Plan will pay 70% for all non-PPO hospitals after satisfying the Annual Major Medical deductible and $150 per admission deductible.

     

    IN-NETWORK (PPO) PHYSICIAN VISITS

    For Primary Care Physician visits, after satisfying the annual Major Medical deductible, the participant pays a $15 co-pay per visit and the Plan pays the balance of the contracted amount. For specialty visits, after satisfying the annual Major Medical deductible, the participant pays a $25 co-pay and the Plan pays the balance of the contracted amount. The co-pay amount does not count towards the $3,000 annual out of pocket maximum.

     

    OUT-OF-NETWORK PHYSICIANS

    Once the participant satisfies the annual Major Medical deductible and an additional $150 annual out of network physician deductible, the Plan will pay 90% of the UCR. For specialists, once the participant satisfies the Major Medical deductible, the Plan will pay 70% of the UCR.

     

    OUTPATIENT FACILITY – IN NETWORK (PPO)

    After the participant satisfies the annual Major Medical deductible, the Plan pays 90% of the contracted charges.

     

    OUTPATIENT FACILITY – OUT-OF-NETWORK

    After the participants satisfies the annual Major Medical deductible, the Plan will pay 70% of the UCR charges.

     

    As always, please feel free to contact the Plan Benefit Advisors with any questions at 877-667-5522.

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


     

    MM&P HEALTH PLAN PARTICIPANTS: Delta Dental Payment Errors

    Effective January 1, 2003, the reimbursement under the dental portion of the Plan was changed from 90 percent in-network to 80 percent in-network and from 80 percent out-of-network to 70 percent out-of-network.

    DUE TO AN ERROR at Delta Dental, the claims for MM&P members for services rendered after 1/1/2003, in some cases, have been paid at the old reimbursement rate. The error has been corrected, however, and Delta will be asking for refunds from providers for the 10 percent overpayments. That means that members who were affected by this error will most likely receive a bill from dentists for the additional 10 percent.

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


     

    GENERAL EXECUTIVE BOARD CLARIFIES OFFSHORE QUOTA SYSTEM

    During MM&P General Executive Board meetings held at MM&P HQ on January 15-16, 2003, the quota system established for admittance to the Offshore Membership Group was clarified to make it clear that this quota system does not apply to MM&P Offshore Unlicensed members.

    On October 3-4, 2002, the GEB established quotas effective October 4, 2002, stating that “No member of any membership group, including the Offshore Unlicensed Membership Group, may transfer into the Offshore Licensed Membership Group without having been a member of the organization for at least as long as the length of time that the lowest applicant admitted into membership has in the organization.” The wording of this statement was subsequently determined to be incorrect.

    On January 16, 2003, the GEB corrected the quota guidelines to read:

    “No member of any MM&P membership group, except for members of the MM&P Offshore Unlicensed Membership Group, may transfer into the Offshore Licensed Membership Group without having been a member of the organization for at least as long as the length of time that the lowest applicant admitted into membership has in the organization.”

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


     

    IMPORTANT UPDATE FROM THE MM&P PLANS OFFICE

     

    HEALTH & BENEFIT PLAN CHANGES

    The Board of Trustees, based on recommendations by the Cost Containment Committee, adopted changes to the Health & Benefit Plan. The following changes will become effective January 1, 2003:

    Annual Deductible

    The current annual deductible of $150/$300 will be raised to $250/$500.

    Out-of-Pocket Maximum

    The current out of pocket maximum of $2,000 will be raised to $3,000.

    Dental Reimbursement Levels

    • The Plan payment to in-network dental providers will go from 90% to 80%.
    • The Plan payment for out-of-network providers will go from 80% of UCR to 70% of UCR.
    • New contract with Delta Dental replaces Aetna/US Healthcare (Prudential Dental) agreement. See below for additional information.

    Prescription Drug Program

    Mail order drugs will be subject to a 20% co-pay for all single source brand name and generic drugs with a maximum out of pocket, per prescription, of $75.

    For brand name drugs where the generic equivalent is available, the member will be responsible for paying the total cost of the difference between the brand name and the generic drug. The Plan will then pay 80% of the cost of the generic and the member will be responsible for the 20% up to a per prescription maximum of $75.

    The Plan has also removed the mandatory mail order provision. This means that any prescription, regardless of the number of refills, can be obtained at a retail level but will be limited to a 30-day supply. However, obtaining maintenance medications through the mail order program may still be less expensive to you.

    A synopsis of these changes and additional changes effective April 1, 2003 appears in the November-December 2002 issue of the MM&P’s Master, Mate & Pilot newspaper. The Plan Office has also mailed a summary of all changes, with examples, to Health & Benefit Plan participants.




    ADDRESS CHANGES

    Remember to notify the Plan office whenever you move or have a change of address. There are a number of important mailings scheduled for the next few months and we would like to keep all members well informed. You can fax your address changes to the Plan Office at 410-850-8655 or you can email them to the Plan Office at mmpplans@aol.com.

     




     

    NEW DENTAL PROGRAM WITH DELTA DENTAL

    This is a reminder that effective October 1, 2002, the MM&P Plan’s contract with Prudential Dental expired. Prudential was purchased by Aetna/US HealthCare in 2001 and could no longer offer the Plan the same type of fee-for-service arrangement as before.

    In order to continue to offer Plan Participants an in-network dental benefit option, the Plan reviewed proposals from organizations that provide network dental services. After review, the Trustees approved a contract with Delta Dental, the largest provider of dental services in the US.

    The Delta Dental Claims Processing Center in Mechanicsburg, PA, will handle claims administration for all MM&P eligible participants and dependents. This includes claims submitted by out of network dentists as well as those who are Delta Dental providers.

    Plan participants who choose to go to a contracted provider will pay 10 percent of the contracted amount and the Plan will pay 90 percent. Participants will have access to all Delta providers in the Delta Premier Network option that includes over 133,000 dentists nationwide.

     

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    ~ Where Does My Dentist Submit My Claims?

    Effective October 1, 2002, all dental claims with dates of service on or after October 1, 2002, from both in and out-of-network providers, should be sent directly to: Delta Dental, One Delta Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6999. Participants will receive a claim form in the mailing sent out by the Plan Office on August 11. Your dentist can copy this form and use it to submit all dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002.

    ~ How Do I Find A Delta Dentist?

    You can locate participating dentists in your area in two ways. You can call 1-800-932-0783 from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, or you can sign on to the Delta website at www.MidAtlanticDeltaDental.com. Once you have signed on to the website, key on the bar marked “Pennsylvania”. (MM&P Plan members are enrolled in the Delta Premier Option through Delta Dental of Penn.) Next enter the search criteria to find participating Delta dentists in your area or enter your own dentist’s name to find out if he/she participates with the Premier network.

     

    WORK IN PROCESS

    Delta Dental will coordinate with the Plan Office to transition all billing for “work in process”. This means that all root canals, orthodontia work and other staged procedures that are not completed under the old arrangement will be carried over and the remaining balance billing, for work performed on or after October 1, 2002 will be processed by Delta Dental.

    It is important to remember that all work that has been pre-determined by Prudential/Aetna must be completed and billed with a billing date on or prior to September 30, 2002, in order to assure that your co-pay will remain the same as quoted in the initial pre-determination.

    Any work started under the old Plan but billed for date of service on or after October 1, 2002 will be reimbursed according to whether the dentist is participating in the Delta Dental network. If your dentist is not a participating dentist, the balance billing will be paid at the out-of-network rate of 80 percent of the Plan’s UCR schedules.

     

    CLAIMS QUESTIONS

    All questions about any dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002, including claims submitted by out-of-network providers, should be directed to Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783. You have been provided with a Delta claim form to forward to your dentist, however, your dentist may submit any standard dental billing form as long as the bill is sent directly to Delta at the above listed address.

     

    IDENTIFICATION CARDS

    Participants have been sent a brochure that includes a perforated generic identification card. This card lists the telephone number and the billing address for Delta. You are not required to carry an identification card because your social security number and birth date will identify you as an eligible participant in the Delta Dental Network.

    It is important to remember that MM&P claims will be processed by Delta Dental of Pennsylvania. You or your dentist can access your eligibility by calling either the Plan Office or Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783.

    If you or your dentist have any questions, you can contact Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

    Plan members are identified by social security number and the Group Plan number for MM&P which is 7117.

    Billing for both in and out of network claims should be submitted on standard dental billing forms and sent directly to Delta at

    Delta Dental of Pennsylvania One Delta Drive Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

    You can locate participating providers on-line at www.MidAtlanticDeltaDental.com. Masters, Mates and Pilots members have access to providers in all of the Delta networks.

     

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


     

    CREDIT UNION MEMBERS: PAY YOURSELF FIRST WITH DIRECT DEPOSIT

    • Do you want an easy way to grow your savings?
    • Do you want an easier way to make deposits to your Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union account?

    Consider establishing payroll or pension direct deposit.

    Many employers allow you to directly deposit your pay into several different financial institutions. Trinity Management, Strong America, Moran Towing of Florida, and McAllister Brothers are among the MM&P-contracted companies that already provide for employees to deposit funds directly into the MM&P Federal Credit Union.

    MM&P Health & Benefit Plans Pensioners and A&G Region Pensioners may have deductions made directly from their pension check to their Credit Union account. In addition, employees of MM&P, Plans, MITAGS and MIRAID are also eligible for payroll deduction directly into their Credit Union account.

    Add to your savings by paying yourself first! Contact your payroll office to establish Credit Union direct deposit or to find out if this is available for you. For additional details or to get answers to your questions on this or other MM&P Federal Credit Union programs, contact Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll-free at 1-800-382-7777 or by Email at mmpfcu@bridgedeck.org.

     

     

    NEW, USED OR REFI: LOW VEHICLE LOAN RATES AT MM&P FCU

    Members are reminded that the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union is offering vehicle loans as low as 5.25 percent. Rates range from 5.25 to 6.99 percent for terms of 24 to 60 months. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a new, used or a refinanced vehicle.

    These rates are also in effect for new or used recreational vehicles, motorcycles or boats. Limited funds available at this rate, certain terms and conditions apply.

    MM&P Federal Credit Union membership is open to all MM&P members, to all MM&P, MITAGS, MIRAID and Plans staff, and to their immediate families.

    Rates and terms of offer are subject to change. Call Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll free 1-800-382-7777 or Email mmpfcu@bridgedeck.org for all the details.

     

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


     

    JERRY BACKMAN MEMORIAL FUND

    A memorial fund has been established in the memory of recently deceased MM&P member Jerry Backman. Jerry shipped out of San Francisco and was 49-years old at the time of his tragic death as the result of an auto accident. Jerry leaves a widow and two children.

    Donations made in memory of Jerry will be used to assist with the education of his children, a 22-year old daughter and a 15-year old son.

    The Backman family is privately managing the fund. They are most appreciative of all the messages expressing sympathy and the positive stories from his shipmates and friends.

    Contributions may be sent to:

    The Jerry B. Backman Memorial Fund c/o Bank of the West 2900 Railroad Avenue Pittsburg, CA 94565

     

    MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly


    The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd., Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1941. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: iommp@bridgedeck.org. For further info or to subscribe contact John Peige at jpeige@bridgedeck.org. The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex andis posted on our web page.

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