08 Nov

November 9 Set as TRS-Care Auto Enrollment Date by TRS

According to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), TRS-Care plan participants who do not terminate their TRS-Care coverage by November 9 will be auto-enrolled into the new Humana and SilverScript (CVS) health care plan. November 9 is the cutoff date for the enrollment file TRS will submit to Humana, SilverScript (CVS) and the federal agency known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

Some members of TRTA have expressed confusion about the meaning of the November 9 deadline. To be clear, TRS-Care participants are eligible to leave TRS-Care at any time*. However, if a participant has not notified TRS of their intent to terminate TRS-Care coverage by November 9, they will receive a TRS-Care Medicare Advantage and Part D ID card in the mail.

If a participant finds that they have been enrolled into TRS-Care Medicare Advantage and Part D and wishes to leave the program, the participant should contact TRS. The participant should also contact TRS if they have already purchased another policy for themselves or their spouse. To reach TRS-Care, please call 1-888-237-6762.

If the participant is a retiree and wishes to terminate TRS-Care coverage, they will need to request a specific form (700B), which must be customized and mailed to the participant from TRS-Care. To cancel TRS-Care by January 1, 2018, the form must be notarized and mailed back to TRS-Care. While the language on the form references a 14-day period, TRS will honor the termination date on the form as long as it is received before the termination date.

Form language: Termination will be effective [fill in blank] if my completed form is received by TRS-Care within 14 days of the date printed on this form. If not received within this 14-day period, termination will become effective on the first day of the month after it is received.

If the participant is terminating TRS-Care coverage for a spouse or dependent, they should send a signed letter to TRS clearly identifying whose coverage should be terminated and the date by which the coverage should be terminated. Retirees will not need a notarized form to terminate coverage for a spouse or dependent.

*Under CMS rules, if a Medicare-eligible retiree decides to leave TRS-Care, the retiree has 63 days starting from January 1, 2018 to select a Medicare product from the individual marketplace with guaranteed issue status. It is important to note that if a participant leaves TRS-Care after the 63-day guaranteed issue period, they may encounter underwriting in the individual Medicare market.

Learn more about the upcoming changes to TRS-Care by reading the TRS-Care FAQ.

Thank You

The Inside Line is a free service of TRTA, provided to you to keep you informed on current issues and events that impact your life.  If you value this service, please consider becoming a member of TRTA by clicking here. If you are already a member, thank you!

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06 Nov

Welcome to Foundation Month 2017

The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) is the charitable arm of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). TRTF is responsible for providing grants and assistance to active and retired educators. November is the month that TRTF hosts its donation drive known as Foundation Month.

Foundation Month is a time to celebrate the charitable works TRTF has provided to educators throughout the year, and look forward to another year of selfless giving and life-changing work.

TRTF has three primary charitable programs: Classroom Assistance Grants, A Helping Hand and Beginning Teacher Scholarships. Each of these programs is set to expand and improve in the coming year.

TRTF will provide 15 Beginning Teacher Scholarships in 2018, and each of these scholarships will be worth $750. These scholarships aim to help new, first-time teachers with certification tests and classroom supplies. Interested parties may download the application here.

TRTF is doubling the number of Classroom Assistance Grants next year, bringing the total number of grants given to 30. Each Classroom Assistance Grant is worth $500. These grants are provided to active teachers seeking to improve their classrooms. Interested parties may download the application here.

The application deadline for the Beginning Teacher Scholarships and Classroom Assistance Grants is March 15, 2018.

The “A Helping Hand” program is set to disburse $17,500 in 2018 to retired educators in need. Since the program’s 2010 inception, “A Helping Hand” has given more than $110,000 to 107 retired educators.

2017 has been a particularly difficult year for many educators, as the Texas coast was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. TRTF brought educators together to raise more than $130,000 for victims of the hurricane through its Disaster Relief program. So far, TRTF has helped more than 450 educators with $250 short-term grants and long-term grants in amounts up to $1,000.

Show your support for public education by donating to TRTF. As TRTF continues to expand its programs, it promises to help many more people. You can donate to TRTF here.

Thank You

Thank you for donating to TRTF! Your contributions truly help change lives!

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02 Nov

Interim Charges for Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Released

The next Texas legislative session doesn’t convene until 2019, but the groundwork for future legislative action is already beginning.

The Texas Legislature recently released its interim charges for the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. The charges include issues pertaining to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

The charges will direct committees to study certain facets relating TRS, and the reports generated by the studies will help inform and guide policymakers in 2019.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) expects the interim before next session to be very busy. TRTA is focused on advancing our agenda of protecting the defined benefit plan, securing a pension increase for retirees, and advancing new and innovative funding solutions to address the TRS-Care shortfalls. As always, TRTA will need your support to move our agenda, educate decision makers and influence the Legislature. Please stay tuned to the Inside Line throughout 2018 as we keep you updated on these important issues.

To read the interim charges in full, please click below:

House Committee on Appropriations
The House Committee on Appropriations will study the long-term sustainability of the TRS-Care program. The committee will also consider options for funding this health care program, especially as it pertains to contributions being based on active employee payroll rather than the cost of health care.

The committee will monitor how the bills passed by the Texas Legislature relating to TRS-Care are implemented during the interim.  Two bills were passed relating to TRS-Care, H.B. 3976 and H.B. 30, and TRS has already used these bills as the blueprint for how it funds TRS-Care and organizes its participants benefits.

House Committee on Pensions
The House Committee on Pensions is of the utmost importance in determining the future health and funding for the TRS pension fund. The committee has been charged with reviewing the state’s oversight of pension systems. Additionally, the committee will be responsible for making recommendations to enhance the state’s oversight of local pension systems.

The committee will evaluate the investment oversight of a number of state-run retirement systems, including TRS. It will identify the best practices made by the agency and make recommendations to strengthen the state’s oversight of the system.

The health incentive programs within the group benefit programs at TRS will be reviewed and evaluated by the committee as well. The committee will be responsible for making recommendations on how to reduce expenditures through TRS-Care.

Similar to the House Committee on Appropriations, the Pensions Committee will review the implementation of bills passed relating to TRS.

House Public Education Committee
The House Public Education Committee will review the charter school system in Texas. It will consider the differences in charter and district contributions to TRS on behalf of their employees and make appropriate recommendations to support the retirement benefits of all public school teachers.

House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse
The House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse will monitor and prevent the abuse of prescription drugs provided through TRS-Care, as well as other state-administered programs. The committee will make a recommendation on the best practices.

Senate Finance
The Senate Finance committee will monitor health care costs throughout the state agencies, including TRS. The committee will attempt to improve and reduce health costs within TRS-Care.

Senate Health and Human Services
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will compare alternative payment models with providers in Medicare managed care, which includes TRS. The goal of these models will be to identify ways in which TRS and the Employee Retirement System (ERS) can work together.

Senate State Affairs
The Senate State Affairs Committee will examine and assess the TRS pension fund. It will review the different types of retirement plans, the actuarial assumptions used by TRS, TRS’s investment practices and performance and the adequacy of financial disclosures. The committee will make recommendations to ensure public pension system retirees’ benefits are preserved and protected.

The committee is also charged with monitoring the implementation of legislative action on TRS from the past session. Specifically, the Senate will monitor the following: the implementation of House Bill 3976, relating to the administration of and benefits payable under the Texas Public School Retired Employees Group Benefits Act.

Thank You

The Inside Line is a free service of TRTA, provided to you to keep you informed on current issues and events that impact your life.  If you value this service, please consider becoming a member of TRTA by clicking here. If you are already a member, thank you!

Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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