ew TRTATV Episode: TRTA Interviews Top TRS Officials

Tim Lee, the Executive Director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), hosted a new episode of TRTATV yesterday. Originally, the episode was scheduled to appear on Facebook Live, but due to audio technical issues, the video could not be broadcast live.

Nonetheless, the episode has been recorded with the Executive Director of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Brian Guthrie and the Katrina Daniel, the TRS Chief Health Care Officer.

Guthrie and Daniel both stressed the importance of contacting TRS with any questions regarding changes to TRS-Care. TRS has drastically expanded its efforts in communicating about TRS-Care benefits.

TRS has launched a new website for members to learn about the health care program. Additionally, TRS has a hotline to call for any questions: 1-888-237-6762. Members can also contact Humana, the health care administrator to whom TRS has bid out the contract to manage TRS-Care, at this help line: 1-800-320-9566.

TRS is also scheduling meetings all across the state to ensure TRS-Care participants are informed about the changes made during the legislative session. When announced, TRTA will compile the list and post it.

TRS is also expected to announce a full list of “general maintenance” prescription drugs that will be covered under the health care plan for pre-65 retirees. Please remember, all of these changes go in to effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Special Message From Tim Lee

Many legislators are hearing from TRTA members and other TRS retirees about how painful the changes to the TRS-Care program will really be once they go into effect January 2018. Let’s just call it like it is, retirees are not happy.

While TRTA’s legislative team communicated this sentiment all session and many of our friends in the Legislature knew these were not easy options to vote on, legislators are getting a much clearer view of how the TRS-Care changes will put a tremendous financial strain on TRS retirees.

TRTA members know that the options we had to support this legislative session are best summed up as kept TRS-Care alive through some additional revenue, but deep cuts to TRS-Care benefits and increased premiums were also going to be made, or oppose any changes and watch TRS-Care enter death spiral and see it fall completely apart leaving retired school employees with extremely limited access to health care options.

TRTA supported the option to keep TRS-Care alive and to continue to fight for more funding for this critical program.

Now that elected officials have been home and are preparing to return to Austin for a special session, TRTA members want to know if anything else can be done to improve this situation before the program changes go into effect. While a special session is on the horizon, it seems the options are limited to help retirees. Limited, though, is not impossible and we urge our members to contact your elected officials BEFORE the special session starts on July 18, 2017.

The best way to make a difference is to call your legislators’ offices, both your House member and Senate member, and let them know that these changes are putting a tremendous financial burden on your fellow retirees and you. Let them know that there are many retirees who are unable to afford the new TRS-Care plan. Say it in a nice, but firm way, and ask them how they intend to make this better. Use the legislator hotline (1-888-674-3788) to contact your legislators’ offices today.

TRTA encourages members to communicate with their elected officials about the heartfelt factual presentation of reality. Legislators need to hear that when TRTA and retirees supported the TRS-Care solution in the regular session, it was to keep the program alive and ensure retirees access to healthcare, but more could have been done with more state financial support to TRS-Care.

Our health care plan needs more money, and legislators have to appropriate those dollars or retirees are stuck with the bills. But we can’t afford the cost of nonstop medical inflation. Something has to be done, and cutting retirees’ benefits is not the answer. The more legislators hear this message, the more they will prioritize your needs.

Thank You

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