Blog

06 Aug
0

TRTA and TRTF Release Legacy Video

Update on the TRTA 59th Annual Convention

Last week, over 1,000 public education retirees met in Houston at the Westin Galleria for the 59th Annual Texas Retired Teachers Association Convention! The convention is held in a different city each year, and serves as our opportunity to train officers and committee chairman from all 260 local units. We also conduct the statewide business of the association, including electing officers for our Board of Directors and voting on bylaws amendments.
In addition to business, attendees are also able to enjoy several enlightening activities. This year, our charitable arm, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation, aired a special video with Foundation luncheon attendees on March 26. You may have heard about TRTF’s Legacy Campaign to promote a positive image of public education in Texas. Many TRTA members have donated generously to this program. Now, all of our members can view the first of many projects to be conceived from this initiative.
You may view the video, “Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow: The Texas Public Education Legacy,” by clicking here or at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4IADf0dUnQ.
Please share this video with everyone you know: friends, family, and active teachers! Above all else, TRTF values public education and those who dedicate their lives to this noble endeavorWe hope the general public may view this video and feel the same appreciation that we do.
The TRTA Legislative Luncheon at Convention was a huge success with over 530 TRTA members in attendance with several hundred others watching the event in an overflow room. A panel of legislators that included State Senator John Whitmire and State Representatives Alma Allen, Larry Gonzales and Dan Huberty answered questions posed by Tim Lee about funding the retirement system and attacks from outside groups that oppose the defined benefit plan.
Officers for the TRTA Board of Directors were elected. Taking office on July 1, 2012 will be President Maridell Fryar, First Vice-President Francis Plemmons, Second Vice-President Nancy Byler and Secretary/Treasurer Don Vardeman. Herbert Norris will continue to serve on the board as Immediate Past President after his presidency concludes on June 30. 
Mary Jane Hamilton, who served as Second Vice-President for the past two years, resigned her position effective March 28 to join the TRTA staff. Ms. Hamilton will manage the TRTA schedule and plan major events, such as next year’s Convention in Corpus Christi. Her new title is Coordinator for Programs and Initiatives. We are happy to welcome her to the team!
The TRTA House of Delegates discussed and voted upon several bylaws amendments. Amendment 2 passed, allowing officers elected to the TRTA Board of Directors to serve two-year terms. Previously, officers served one-year terms with elections held every year. This change will take effect July 2014. A new business item introduced from the floor of the House of Delegates also passed, making the Local Unit Support Committee a permanent standing committee. No other amendments passed, though Amendment 7 to combine three standing committees was referred to the board for further study.
TRTA appreciates the dedication of our delegates. Your participation in this convention was vital and productive. We also want to give a special thank you to the volunteers of District 4 who hosted the convention. Their tremendous energy and organizational skills made everything operate smoothly!
Next year’s Convention in Corpus Christi marks TRTA’S 60th birthday and will occur April 9-12, 2013. TRTA looks forward to working closely with District 2 in planning this milestone event!

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06 Aug
0

TRS Announces Medicare Advantage Seminars

See Below for Dates and Locations Near You!

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) has released information about the upcoming Medicare Advantage seminars. TRTA members and all TRS-Care participants can make plans now to attend one of these information sessions. TRS has assured us that they will do all they can to provide you with information about this new option, including the doctor and hospital network available in your area.

The list of upcoming meetings is provided below, and are also available as PDF files sorted by date (click here) and by district (click here). You also will receive this list from TRS in the mail soon (click here for that mailing). TRTA will update you if this list changes or if new locations and dates are added.

Please be advised, space is limited at each facility. TRS is asking that you call ahead to make reservations. The number is 1-800-831-2057 (TDD: 711) and is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week.

Workshop options:
Thursday, August 23 & Friday, August 24
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Hilton Austin Airport
9515 Hotel Drive Austin TX 78719

Monday, August 27 & Tuesday, August 28
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Stafford Center
10505 Cash Road Stafford, TX 77477

Monday, August 27
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Hyatt Richardson
701 East Campbell Road Richardson, TX 75081

Tuesday, August 28
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Richardson Civic Center Grand Hall
411 West Arapaho Road Richardson, TX 75083

Monday, August 27
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Education Service Center Region 20
1314 Hines Avenue San Antonio, TX 78208

Tuesday, August 28
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Marriott Northwest
3233 NW Loop 410 San Antonio, TX 78213

Wednesday, August 29
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Smith’s Lone Star Event Center
4036 FM 2767 Tyler, TX 75708

Wednesday, August 29 & Thursday, August 30
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Hilton Hobby Airport
8181 Airport Boulevard Houston, TX 77061

Thursday, August 30
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Mesquite Convention & Expo Center
1700 Rodeo Drive Mesquite, TX 75149

Friday, August 31
10 a.m.
Harlingen Community Center
201 East Madison Avenue Harlingen, TX 78550

Friday, August 31
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Waxahachie Civic Center
2000 Civic Center Lane Waxahachie, TX 75165

Tuesday, September 4 & Wednesday, September 5
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Will Rogers Memorial Center
3401 W Lancaster Avenue Fort Worth, TX 76107

Wednesday, September 5
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
1601 Lake Robbins Drive The Woodlands, TX 77380

Wednesday, September 5
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Ortiz Center
402 Harbor Drive Corpus Christi, TX 78401

Thursday, September 6
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Pasadena Convention Center & Fairgrounds
7902 Fairmont Parkway Pasadena, TX 77507

Thursday, September 6
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Arlington Convention Center
1200 Ballpark Way Arlington, TX 76011

Friday, September 7
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Beaumont Civic Center Complex, the Julie Rogers Theatre
765 Pearl Street Beaumont, TX 77704

Friday, September 7
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Grapevine Convention Center & Palace Arts Center
1209 South Main Street Grapevine, TX 76051

Friday, September 7
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Holiday Inn
800 Garden Street Laredo, TX 78040

Monday, September 10
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Waco Convention Center McLennan Hall
W. 100 Washington Avenue Waco, TX 76701

Monday, September 10
10 a.m.
The Amarillo Civic Center
401 Buchanan Street Amarillo, TX 79105

Tuesday, September 11
10 a.m.
Education Service Center Region 9
301 Loop 11 Wichita Falls, TX 76306

Monday, September 17
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Summit
120 N. Festival Drive El Paso, TX 79912

Tuesday, September 18
10 a.m.
Education Service Center Region 14
1850 Hwy 351 Abilene, TX 79601

Thursday, September 20
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Education Service Center Region 18
2811 LaForce Boulevard Midland, TX 79706

Thursday, September 20
10 a.m.
McNease Convention Center
500 Rio Concho Drive San Angelo, TX 76903

Friday, September 21
10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Education Service Center Region 17
1111 West Loop 289 Lubbock, TX 79416

 

TRTA Follow Up

TRTA will attend the first meeting and report back to you about the information TRS and Aetna are providing. We hope this will help you prepare the questions you want to ask and learn more about how the new Medicare Advantage option may affect your decision to remain with the plan or opt out.

There are several areas that do not seem to have TRS and Aetna seminars scheduled. We will continue to work with TRS to ensure that all TRS-Care participants will have a chance to attend an information session in their area.

These are major changes to your health care options and we know you have many questions. Make plans now to attend one of these sessions. If you are unable to attend, you may want to contact a TRTA local unit leader in your area and ask them to help get answers to your questions. The TRTA local unit network can be viewed by clicking here.

TRTA Leaders Head to National Conference

The National Conference on State Legislatures (NCSL) kicks off this week in Chicago, IL. State legislators from all over the country will attend. A major discussion item at this year’s conference is changing educator and public employee retirement plans from traditional defined benefit plans to other types of private retirement plans.

Several members of the TRTA Board of Directors and TRTA staff will attend to learn more about what other states are doing to change their retirement plans. Also attending the conference are many Texas legislators. TRTA officials will have an opportunity to promote the success of the TRS defined benefit plan and the continuation of the TRS-Care health insurance program. You can follow TRTA NCSL updates on Facebook. TRTA will also update you via the Inside Line.

TRTA Thanks You!

The TRTA membership is growing and we want to thank all of you who have already renewed your TRTA membership and are working to recruit new members.

We all know that our TRS defined benefit plan in under attack. We must work together and stand against these attacks. Now is the time to get involved. If you are not a member and would like to join TRTA in protecting your TRS retirement and health care benefits, please contact us at 1.800.880.1650. We are happy to answer your TRTA membership questions.

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28 Jul
0

TRS Releases More Information on Medicare Advantage Programs

(Your next packet of information is in the mail, or you may read it now by clicking on the links provided by TRTA)

TRS-Care 2 Enrollees ||| TRS-Care 3 Enrollees

The incorporation of the new TRS Medicare Advantage Plan is a big change for many TRS-Care participants. Some TRTA members eagerly are awaiting the cost savings associated with these plans. Others want nothing to do with the plan and want to opt out at the earliest opportunity.

Nearly all TRTA members contacting our office want more information. There are some common questions that many members are asking:

  • Will my doctor(s) and medical provider(s) accept the Medicare Advantage plan?
  • Am I able to opt out?
  • When will TRS be able to answer direct questions about provider networks in all areas of the state?
  • Does TRTA think it is a good idea for me to be on the Medicare Advantage plan?

Let me answer the last question first. The answer is one that many people will not want to hear. The fact is that this is a very diverse state. An individual’s health care options vary widely by location. Some areas are losing doctors and hospital networks that are willing to accept Medicare. Other areas are full of medical provider options; but some are saying they are not accepting Medicare Advantage plans. Many people just want to know if this is a good program or one that could force them potentially into situations with their health care they cannot afford (either financially or personally).

We know this is not going to be an easy decision. The good news is that there is still plenty of time to have ALL of your questions answered before it impacts your insurance options. The program will NOT auto enroll anyone until January 1, 2013. Over the next five months, TRS will provide many opportunities to address your questions.

TRTA is not endorsing or condemning the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage plan. We do, however, have tremendous confidence in the people working on your behalf at TRS. These dedicated employees are doing everything they can to make the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage plan beneficial for those choosing to utilize it.

Please remember the Teacher Retirement System of Texas is providing you with a 100% guarantee opt-out provision. If you review the Medicare Advantage plan over the next few months and decide to stay in the plan in 2013 as many TRS retirees will, you can opt out at any time for any reason—even if you have been in the plan for six months.

It is also important to know that if TRTA did not think that TRS was doing everything in their power to provide a comparable plan that is beneficial to our members, we would oppose its implementation. We are not opposed to TRS officials working on plan design options that provide equal or better benefits, and savings to the member and the plan. The TRS Medicare Advantage plan is NOT the average, off-the-shelf Medicare Advantage plan available in the open market. It has been tailored to serve TRS retirees and is based largely on the Medicare supplement programs already available through TRS-Care 2 and 3.

TRTA is trying to learn more about medical provider networks. We have been told by TRS and Aetna that even though a medical provider (doctor or hospital) may have a policy against taking Medicare Advantage, they may not have a problem taking the TRS Medicare Advantage plan and/or payment from the plan because it is different than the standard general market plan.

What this means is that if you have already started checking with your medical providers and have been told that they do not take Medicare Advantage, it is worth the effort to verify with Aetna as their plan and payment allowances may be acceptable to the provider. This may seem like extra legwork on your part, but it could open doors for you and many TRS retirees in your area. TRS and Aetna have the ability to make changes, and your role simply is to check with your medical providers and provide feedback.

TRS and Aetna are preparing to go on the road and visit with TRS-Care plan participants directly. These meetings should be announced soon. TRTA will post the schedule on the Inside Line and on our web site as soon as it is received.

We understand that many of you have questions and concerns. We are also concerned. TRTA is confident that TRS is working for you on this plan implementation. They want you to know what is or is not possible in your region, and they are very appreciative for your feedback.

Finally, TRTA is working with TRS to develop a “checklist” that you can use to make a better, more informed decision about whether the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage Plan is a good option for you. As we continue to receive your comments, we will relay them to TRS and provide answers back to you.

We have the next five months to work together and get as much information as possible. We are focused on helping you have the information necessary to make a good decision for you and your family. Remember to click on the links above to see a PDF version of the information packet that TRS is sending. Pages 4-8 provide details on how these plans may save a TRS-Care participant out-of-pocket costs. Please continue to provide your questions and feedback.

Friendly Voting Reminder

Today is the end of early voting in the Texas primary runoff elections, but that does not mean this is your last opportunity to go to the polls! Remember that Tuesday, July 31 will be your final opportunity to vote. There are MANY VERY CLOSE ELECTIONS STILL TO BE DECIDED. TRTA members vote in high percentages, so we need you to get to the polls and vote for the candidate(s) you believe are the most interested in protecting your TRS defined benefit plan and your health care benefits. TRTA does not endorse candidates, but if you have a question about a legislative voting record please let us know. More information about candidates can be found by asking your friends and fellow TRTA retirees. If you want to contact one of our local units in your area, please click the link below for more information about our statewide TRTA local unit network : http://LocalUnits.org/LocalUnitDirectory/

TRTA Membership

Thank you to everyone who has already taken the time to renew your TRTA membership. As you all know, we are in a major fight to protect your TRS defined benefit plan and health care benefits. Your membership is helping us work for you. If you are not yet a TRTA member, or would like more information about our growing retiree network that exceeds 73,000 members, please call us at 1.800.880.1650 or send your questions to trta@trta.org.

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