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19 May
0

Tim Lee To Host Facebook Live About WEP Reform with Congressman Kevin Brady!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Kevin Brady has had a scheduling conflict come up. Tim Lee is working to find a new guest for this week. We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to schedule Brady at a future date!

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) Executive Director Tim Lee will host a Facebook Live discussion with Congressman Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) about the most recent efforts to reform the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP). Brady serves as the ranking minority member on the House Ways and Means Committee, and his bill, H.R. 3934, proposes to give retirees back more of their hard-earned Social Security benefits. Previously, he has served as the chair of this very important committee.

You won’t want to miss this important discussion about the WEP and hear how we can move forward with reform. Be sure to tell your fellow retired and active educators about this event! The Facebook Live event will begin at 12 p.m. on Friday, May 22 on TRTA’s Facebook Page. You don’t need to have a Facebook account to visit the page and view the video. If you miss the live event, the recorded video will be available here.

On April 4, Lee also provided an in-depth look at the WEP on Facebook Live, which is available here.

The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) is an unfair federal provision preventing retirees from receiving the Social Security benefits they are owed. The WEP, which took effect in 1983, provides a means of eliminating the “windfall” of Social Security benefits received by beneficiaries who also receive a pension based on work not covered by Social Security.

Ninety-five percent of Texas public school employees do not pay into Social Security through their work with Texas schools. However, many have other jobs before, during, or after their employment in education in which they do pay into the federal program.

TRTA has joined our friends in Massachusetts, who are also affected by the WEP, in creating the Public Retirees Alliance.

There are currently two WEP reform bills on the table, H.R. 4540, by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richie Neal, and H.R. 3934 by Texas Rep. Kevin Brady.

The bills are similar and would be an improvement for the lives of retirees impacted by the WEP. TRTA is pushing for the best possible outcome for retirees.

Please contact your congressional representative and ask them to support both H.R. 4540 and H.R. 3934. You can find your representative’s contact information here.

Currently, there’s only one congressional member on the House Ways and Means Committee that has not signed on to either bill, Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett. If you want WEP reform to move forward, please contact Rep. Doggett and ask him to take action on this very important issue!

True WEP reform starts in the House Ways and Means Committee, but it will take all Texas congressional members to resolve the WEP issue as they all play a part. We need them to support one or both bills. Let’s work to get 100 percent Texas congressional support on these bills! Currently, RepMac Thornberry also isn’t signed on to either bill.

Name Phone Number Signed HR 4540 (Neal) Signed HR 3934 (Brady)
Jodey Arrington (202) 225-4005 No Yes
Kenny Marchant (202) 225-6605 No Yes
Kevin Brady (202) 225-4901 No Yes
Lloyd Doggett (202) 225-4865 No No

 

Name Phone Number Signed HR 4540 (Neal) Signed HR 3934 (Brady)
Al Green (202) 225-7508 Yes No
Bill Flores (202) 225-6105 No Yes
Brian Babin (202) 225-1555 No Yes
Chip Roy (202) 225-4236 No Yes
Colin Allred (202) 225-2231 Yes No
Dan Crenshaw (202) 225-6565 No Yes
Eddie Johnson (202) 225-8885 Yes No
Filemon Vela (202) 225-9901 Yes Yes
Henry Cuellar (202) 225-1640 Yes Yes
Joaquin Castro (202) 225-3236 Yes No
John Carter (202) 225-3864 No Yes
John Ratcliffe (202) 225-6673 No Yes
Kay Granger (202) 225-5071 No Yes
Lance Gooden (202) 225-3484 Yes Yes
Lizzie Fletcher (202) 225-2571 Yes No
Louie Gohmert (202) 225-3035 No Yes
Mac Thornberry (202) 225-3706 No No
Marc Veasey (202) 225-9897 Yes No
Michael Burgess (202) 225-7772 No Yes
Michael Cloud (202) 225-7742 No Yes
Michael Conaway (202) 225-3605 No Yes
Michael McCaul (202) 225-2401 No Yes
Pete Olson (202) 225-5951 No Yes
Randy Weber (202) 225-2831 No Yes
Roger Williams (202) 225-9896 No Yes
Ron Wright (202) 225-2002 No Yes
Sheila Jackson Lee (202) 225-3816 Yes No
Sylvia Garcia (202) 225-1688 Yes No
Van Taylor (202) 225-4201 No Yes
Veronica Escobar (202) 225-4831 Yes No
Vicente Gonzalez (202) 225-2531 Yes Yes
Will Hurd (202) 225-4511 No Yes

 

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08 May
0

Tim Lee Hosts Video Discussion About TRS-Care with Katrina Daniel

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) Executive Director Tim Lee continued his video series this week with a conversation about TRS-Care, the state-run health insurance program for retired educators. Lee held the video call with Katrina Daniel, who has been the Chief Health Care Officer for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) for five years.

Daniel’s responsibilities include overseeing the implementation of TRS-Care as well as working with providers to ensure the best possible benefits for retirees.

TRS is the largest purchaser of health care in Texas except for Medicaid. Daniel said during the interview that TRS’s goal with TRS-Care is to “get the most value to our members.” She said that she defined value as the combination of “quality and cost,” and that she tries to help members by “extract(ing) every bit of value out of every dollar that we spend.”

TRS-Care is the changing providers for both the pre-65 retiree plan, TRS-Care Standard, and the plan for over-65 retirees, TRS-Care Medicare Advantage. TRS-Care Standard is switching to BlueCross BlueShield. TRS-Care Medicare Advantage is switching to United Healthcare. The change to the new vendors for retirees takes place on Jan. 1, 2021!

The TRS-Care MA plan is specially designed to help retirees. Unlike HMO health care plans, TRS-Care MA is structured as a PPO plan, which makes its in-network and out-of-network benefits the same. “You can go to any doctor, any hospital that takes Medicare, and you can be seen,” Daniel said.

When deciding to switch to United Healthcare, TRS closely examined the providers that were offered, and Daniel said they found a “very broad overlap” between United’s providers and what’s currently provided.

Daniel presented a useful graphic during the conversation that describes the benefits that TRS-Care MA participants receive. The document is located here.

A common question that retirees have whenever TRS-Care switches providers is how to explain to their doctor that TRS-Care Medicare Advantage plan is a group plan and operates differently than plans in the “individual market.”

When asked about a specific example that many TRS retirees are concerned with, that being UHC and Houston Methodist, Katrina said that members will be able to go to Houston Methodist and see their medical providers.

The real issue is helping medical providers in any medical system understand that TRS-Care is a group and operates different than individual market Medicare Advantage plans.

Daniel said the process to resolve this scenario will be very similar with United Healthcare as it has been with Humana and Aetna in past years. She said there will be a flyer on trs.texas.gov for retirees to take to their doctor’s office, and the doctor’s office can also call United or TRS.

TRS has developed a number of programs to help inform retirees about the transition to the new providers. A popular program has been the in-person seminars during the fall. However, due to the pandemic, these in-person seminars are up in the air. Daniel said that the seminars will occur in the fall, even if they have to happen in a virtual environment. In the past, TRS has done webinars in addition to the seminars.

Additionally, Daniel said that the SilverSneakers brand will continue providing gym benefits with the new plan. She said that Go365, which is a Humana brand, won’t be a part of the United Healthcare structure, but there will be a similar program called Rally Health. TRS will have more information about Rally Health as the transition approaches.

If you’d like to learn more about the transition to the new providers, please visit TRS’s health care site.

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06 May
0

Tim Lee To Host Video Discussion About TRS-Care with Katrina Daniel

The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) Executive Director Tim Lee will host a video discussion with Katrina Daniel about the state of TRS-Care. Daniel serves as the Chief Health Care Officer for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). The video will be posted on Friday, May 8 at 2 p.m. to TRTA’s website and Facebook page.

You won’t want to miss this important discussion about the impending changes to the state-run retiree health insurance program, TRS-Care. As TRTA reported earlier in February, TRS-Care is switching providers in January 2021.

BlueCross BlueShield will provide service for TRS-Care Standard and TRS-ActiveCare. United Healthcare will provide service for Medicare Advantage. If you’re a retired educator under age 65, your TRS-Care provider will be BlueCross BlueShield. If you’re a retired educator over age 65, your Medicare Advantage provider will be United Healthcare.

The change to the new vendors for retirees will not go into effect until January 1, 2021, but we know many retirees have questions about their benefits that they need answered now. (Please note that active educators will transition on September 1, 2020).

Your support is incredibly important during this turbulent time. TRTA is very active in pursuing the best improvements for retiree benefits. If you’re not yet a member, please consider joining our fight today! If you haven’t already, be sure to like TRTA on Facebook, and follow TRTA on Twitter and YouTube.

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