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11 Aug
0

Special Session Final Days! Call Your Legislator TODAY!

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, the first called special session of the 85th Legislature has proceeded at a breakneck pace since it began on July 18. Next Wednesday, August 16, special session will come to an end. Legislation to help retired educators this session is still pending.

Retired educators through phone calls, emails, social media and rallies have driven this issue into the forefront of legislators’ minds–all of whom have expressed an intent to help retirees–and motivated legislators to respond. However, as many legislators are working on this issue, a consensus must be reached for retirees to realize a benefit from the special session.

TRS-Care Reform Not Finalized

Bills were filed by both the Senate and the House to address funding for the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program during special session. Two bills, Senate Bill 19 and House Bill 20, passed their respective chambers.

Each bill proposes a similar result: $212.7 million in funding for TRS-Care to reduce pre-65 retirees’ deductibles and premiums. However, these bills have a point of contention between the House and the Senate—their funding mechanism. To read a comparison of the bills, please click here.

SB 19 would take its money from deferred payments to Medicaid managed care organizations. HB 20 would take the money from the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF).

The philosophical divide between the two chambers must be resolved for either of these bills to be signed into law.

Special session will end on Wednesday, August 16, less than a week from today! TRTA believes that the Texas Legislature wants to help retirees by passing additional funding for TRS-Care.

However, it is vital that an agreement be reached on how to move forward. Without this agreement, the path to providing financial relief to retirees is unclear!

Take Action by Calling Your Legislator Today!

We need your help today! Your legislators will be in Austin this weekend continuing to meet and vote on legislation.

Please use our toll-free legislator hotline to call your Senator and Representative today! 1.888.674.3788. The urgency of this issue means that a phone call to your legislator may be more valuable than an email. However, TRTA does have an email Action Alert on this issue available here.

We are asking our members to consider sharing the following with their legislators:

  1. We are grateful for your service to the state of Texas and to Texas educators.
  2. Thank you for voting for additional funding for TRS-Care! Everyone in the Legislature has voted on whether or not to provide this funding, and the majority of members in both chambers support more money for the program.
  3. Special session has provided legislators a tremendous opportunity to help retirees, and it is evident that the will to do so is strong!
  4. Now, retirees need your help to reach consensus between the Senate and House plans for TRS-Care. Please encourage state leadership to take advantage of the limited time left in special session to pass additional funding for TRS-Care!

What Happens After Special Session Ends?

Whatever happens during the special session, retirees who participate in a TRS-Care program should know that they do not need to make any final decisions regarding their healthcare coverage now. The current plans will continue to be available and active to participants through December 31, 2017.

Though the TRS-Care plan normally ends in August and restarts in September, TRS is running a long plan year. Your deductibles will NOT reset on September 1, 2017. Instead, those participating in a TRS-Care plan will be transitioned to the new plans effective January 1, 2018.

TRTA urges caution for retirees making decisions about changing their health care coverage. There is time to review potential options. However, making a decision now to leave TRS-Care could result in a retiree not being able to return to the program in the future.

How Can Retirees Learn More About the New Plans?

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) is planning multiple information sessions across the state for the fall. The sessions will be free to attend, and insurance providers will also be present to answer questions. Sessions should begin no later than October.

The schedule for these sessions has not yet been released. TRTA will release the schedule to members as soon as it becomes available.

In the meantime, members may also visit the TRS website to find additional information.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you are not yet a member of TRTA, please join today.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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07 Aug
0

ACTION ALERT: Final Days of Session, Contact Your Legislators to Pass TRS-Care Funding

Click here to contact your legislator, and ask them to support TRS-Care funding!

The Texas Legislature’s special session will soon be over, and the clock is ticking to pass bills related to TRS-Care reform. The special session will come to a close next Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 12 PM. Two bills, HB 20 and SB 19, have been passed out of their respective chambers, and each proposes a similar result: $212.7 million in funding for TRS-Care to reduce pre-65 retirees’ deductibles and premiums. However, these bills have a point of contention between the House and the Senate, their funding mechanism.

HB 20 would take the money from the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF). SB 19 would take its money from deferred payments to Medicaid managed care organizations.

The philosophical divide between the two chambers must be resolved for either of these bills to be signed into law. Many newspapers and digital publications have keyed into this issue, and are providing heartfelt stories of retired teachers in need.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) needs your help today. Contact your legislators using our Action Alert, and ask them to support a speedy resolution to finding more TRS-Care funding. Remind your legislators that you appreciate their hard work and attention to this issue.

Let them know that retired educators are more than just spectators, but willing participants who already have considerable skin in the game. We need the legislators to work together to find a solution to the funding problem.

Click here to contact your legislators.

House Appropriations Committee Meets, Discusses Alternative Revenue Sources For TRS-Care

The Texas House Appropriations committee, chaired by Rep. John Zerwas (R-Katy) met today to discuss three bills, HB 52, HB 363 and HB 367, which would create additional funding sources for TRS-Care. Each of these bills is related to using funds that would go towards the Economic Stabilization Fund for TRS-Care.

TRTA would like to thank Reps. Donna Howard (D-Austin) and Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) for their creative bills.

TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee testified in favor of the bills at the committee meeting. However, he cautioned the legislators that the creation of a new funding source for TRS-Care should not take away or replace any current funding sources. He pointed to the rising health care costs for public servants as a reason to avoid replacing any funding sources.

“Our objective is to make sure the Legislature is not supplanting dollars,” Lee said. “Teaching can not be the path to poverty as a profession in this state, and we have to be able to do something to shore up these funds.”

These bills represent another attempt to free up dollars for the priorities of public education and health care for retired educators. TRTA is grateful for these discussions and hopeful that legislators will find a way to compromise during the current special session to pass legislation directed at financial relief for retired educators.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). If you are not yet a member of TRTA, please join today.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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01 Aug
0

Texas House Passes HB 20 and HB 80

  • HB 20, which would provide $212.7 million towards TRS-Care, passed the House.
  • HB 80, which would authorize TRS to make a Cost-of-Living Adjustment for those who’ve retired since Aug. 31, 2004, passed the House.

The Texas House met today to discuss two bills relating to retired educators. HB 20 would provide $212.7 million in financial relief for TRS-Care. The bill would result in reduced premiums and deductibles for retirees under the age of 65. HB 20 passed with a vote of 130-10.

The bill came under significant scrutiny for its use of the Rainy Day Fund (RDF) to provide retired educators financial relief. Some legislators consider the bill to be a “false promise” to retired educators, as the Texas Senate has expressed opposition towards using the RDF.

Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) is the author of HB 20, and he vigorously defended his bill. He said that while he would have preferred to use General Revenue to provide relief, that passing the bill out of the House would allow it to be debated and revised in the Senate. He pointed to the necessity of passing HB 20, as all other House bills proposing assistance for TRS-Care have not made it through committee.

“This is the number one issue that I’ve heard about back home,” Ashby said.

Rep. Dan Huberty (R – Houston) also expressed his support for HB 20, calling it “the most important bill that we have this session.”

HB 80 Passes, Next Step: The Senate

Rep. Drew Darby’s (R – San Angelo) bill, HB 80, an increase for cost-of-living (COLA) for educators who retired between Sept. 1, 2004 and Aug. 31, 2015, if funding becomes available. In essence, the bill indefinitely authorizes the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to provide annuitants a COLA if the trust fund becomes actuarially sound.

The TRS fund, although in good shape overall financially, is not considered actuarially sound. The COLA will only occur in the circumstance that the fund increases by a substantial amount due to market gains during the interim, or by the Legislature appropriating new funding towards TRS. The bill would complete the job that SB 1458 started in 2013, which is to provide a 3 percent COLA to retired educators. HB 80 passed 139-2. TRTA appreciates Rep. Darby and the Texas House for recognizing the need for retired educators to receive a COLA.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). If you are not yet a member of TRTA, please join today.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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