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22 Jul
0

Senate Finance Meets to Discuss SB 19

Today, Saturday, July 22, the Senate Finance Committee met to discuss Senate Bill 19. The bill was filed for the first called special session of the 85th Legislature by Senator Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound) and co-authored by Senator Joan Huffman (R – Houston).

SB 19 relates to bonuses and salaries for public school classroom teachers and state assistance for the Texas Public School Employees Group Insurance Program, including TRS-Care. To read the full text of the bill, please click here.

SB 19 lays out the Texas Senate’s plan for providing additional revenue to the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program. The Senate’s plan to address TRS-Care funding includes as much as $212 million in additional funding that will be used to lower deductibles for pre-65 TRS retirees from $3,000 to $1,500 for individuals and from $6000 to $3000 for families.

The plan will also help reduce premiums for retirees age 65 and older by $25. Medicare retiree only premium would go from $146 to $121. Retiree plus spouse premiums would go from $590 to $565. Retiree plus child(ren) premiums would go from $504 to $479. Retiree plus family premiums would go from $1106 to $1081.

Please note, TRTA continues to work with major carriers to find Medicare supplement solutions at the lowest cost possible. As the largest retired teacher organization in the nation, we partner with more than 30 other associations around the country representing retired school employees and other public servants. TRTA will use its influence to develop and offer an alternative Medicare supplement for its members and their dependents. As soon as more information becomes available about these options, TRTA will share them.

SB 19 would also provide assistance to retirees who have adult incapacitated children with disabilities, reducing premiums by $200 per month. Non-Medicare retiree plus child premiums would go from $433 to $233, Non-Medicare retiree plus family would go from $1074 to $874, Medicare retiree plus child would go from $504 to $304, and Medicare retiree plus family would go from $1106 to $906. SB 19 would also reduce the maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) for retirees with adult disabled children from $6650/$13,300 to $3000/$6000.

Once a Non-Medicare retiree reaches the annual deductible in the 2018 standard plan, the plan will pay 80% of eligible in-network medical and prescription expenses, and once they reach the MOOP the plan pays %100 of eligible in-network medical and prescription expenses.

Preventive services such as annual physicals, cancer screenings, immunizations and flu shots are available at no cost to retirees. HB 3976, passed during the regular 85thLegislative Session, also covers preventative maintenance generic drugs at no cost to Non-Medicare retirees in the HD plan.

In a video shared by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick yesterday, he stated that this Senate plan will make the additional funding from SB 19 permanent in the next legislative session. If this additional funding becomes part of the ongoing budget strategy for TRS-Care, it will have a very positive long-term impact for this vital program.

Senator Kirk Watson (D – Austin) and other Senators serving on the committee pointed out during today’s hearing that funding for TRS-Care must be tied to a funding source in order for the changes laid out in SB 19 to become permanent. In other words, the state contribution rate will need to be increased if this funding is to be added to the base budget for TRS-Care during the next regular legislative session. Right now, we have a commitment from the Senate to make this permanent funding a priority. TRTA believes Chairman Jane Nelson is intent on doing that.
More Details to Come Soon

Tim Lee, Executive Director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), testified during today’s hearing, expressing the need for retirees living on average fixed annuities of $2000 or less per month to have access to quality, affordable healthcare. Many valuable remarks were made by state Senators today that TRTA will share in a more extended update next week.

As our members may know, multiple bills have been filed this special session to address TRS-Care funding and other benefit adjustments for Texas public education retirees. You can view a list of those bills by clicking here. As our members also know, it is vital that agreement between both bodies of the Legislature be found in order for this additional help to be received.

Texas House members have also proposed several options for providing additional funding for TRS-Care. TRTA urges the Legislature to work collectively to ensure that the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program receives additional funding and retirees receive some financial relief.

Today’s hearing was the first step of many more to come during this fast-paced and productive special session. Please stay tuned daily to TRTA for any urgent updates about issues impacting your retirement benefits during the special session.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA! TRTA has more than 82,000 members, but there are more than 350,000 TRS retirees. That means hundreds of thousands of TRS retirees are not involved in the largest retiree organization advocating for their TRS benefits.

To improve funding for TRS-Care, we need as many retirees as possible to join TRTA and stand with us!

It is vital that you join TRTA today! If you already are a member, please ask your fellow retirees to join. Many retirees are still unaware of the impending TRS-Care changes! Let’s all work together to improve retirement benefits for current and future retirees.

Be sure to connect with us via FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

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21 Jul
0

Special Session Update: Legislative Hearings for Education, TRS Issues Begin

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know that it has been a busy week! The first called special session of the 85th Legislature began on Tuesday, July 18, and by the early morning hours of July 20, Governor Greg Abbott announced that TRS-Care funding had been added to the special session call.

Because the special session lasts for just thirty days, items on Governor Abbott’s list will be addressed quickly. Committee meetings will be held even on weekends as our state legislators work to pass legislation on approximately twenty different issues.

Senate Finance: Saturday, July 22 at 1:00 p.m.

This weekend, the Senate Finance Committee will meet to discuss Senate Bill 19 by Senator Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound). SB 19 relates to bonuses and salaries for public school classroom teachers and state assistance for the Texas Public School Employees Group Insurance Program, including TRS-Care. To read the full text of the bill, please click here.

TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee will be testifying on SB 19 this Saturday when the Senate Finance Committee meets at 1:00 p.m. in room E1.036 of the Texas Capitol. At that time, a link will be made available to view the meeting live online from this webpage. (Please note the video live feed of the meeting will not be available until a few minutes before the meeting begins).

House Appropriations: Tuesday, July 25 at 10:00 a.m.

TRTA also expects bills to be heard at next Tuesday’s meeting of the House Appropriations Committee. Appropriations will meet on July 25 at approximately 10:00 a.m. after the full House has adjourned or recessed. The committee will meet in room E1.030 of the Texas Capitol.

A live webcast of the meeting will be made available from this webpage once the meeting begins. Tim Lee expects to testify on this day. TRTA will provide more news about what bills have been added to the meeting agenda as soon as the information is made available.

More to Come!

Members, it is vital to stay tuned throughout special session as bills move through the legislative process at a breakneck pace! TRTA will be calling on its members to make phone calls and send emails as bills addressing TRS-Care and cost-of-living increases are placed on committee agendas.

TRTA knows that retired educators are frustrated and scared after the changes made to the TRS-Care program during Regular Session. While saving the program was essential, it does not take away the sting of the financial burdens that will hit retiree pocketbooks in January 2018.

Many legislators have filed bills to help retirees during the Special Session. While retirees are grateful that their concerns have been heard, they also know that nothing can be accomplished if the Senate and the House cannot come to an agreement on HOW to help retirees.

Right now, funding avenues for TRS-Care between the House and the Senate differ significantly. We must continue to contact our legislators throughout Special Session and ensure that not only are bills filed, they are also passed!

Here are a few bills to watch as special session continues:

HB 20 Author: Ashby | Darby | VanDeaver | Zerwas | Howard
Last Action: 07/20/2017 H Referred to Appropriations: Jul 20 2017 10:40AM
Caption: Relating to an appropriation of money from the economic stabilization fund to decrease health insurance premiums and deductibles for certain health benefit plans administered by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

 

HB 76 Author: Darby | Guillen | Oliveira
Last Action: 07/20/2017 H Referred to Appropriations: Jul 20 2017 10:40AM
Caption: Relating to a supplemental appropriation for Teacher Retirement System of Texas retiree health.

 

HB 80 Author: Darby | Guillen | Oliveira
Last Action: 07/20/2017 H Referred to Appropriations: Jul 20 2017 10:40AM
Caption: Relating to a cost-of-living adjustment applicable to certain benefits paid by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

 

HB 151 Author: Gooden | Guillen | Thompson, Senfronia | Darby | Cook
Last Action: 07/20/2017 H Referred to Appropriations: Jul 20 2017 4:20PM
Caption: Relating to the administration of certain group benefits by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas; making an appropriation.
HB 181 Author: Guillen
Last Action: 07/20/2017 H Referred to Appropriations: Jul 20 2017 4:20PM
Caption: Relating to the salary and retirement benefits paid to certain teachers employed by or retired from public schools.
HB 193 Author: Ashby
Last Action: 07/18/2017 H Filed
Caption: Relating to an appropriation of money from the economic stabilization fund to decrease health insurance premiums and deductibles for certain health benefit plans administered by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
HB 246 Author: Hernandez
Last Action: 07/21/2017 H Referred to Pensions: Jul 21 2017 10:40AM
Caption: Relating to a cost-of-living increase applicable to benefits paid by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
HB 260 Author: Martinez, “Mando”
Last Action: 07/20/2017 H Filed
Caption: Relating to a cost-of-living increase applicable to benefits paid by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

 

SB 19 Author: Nelson | Campbell | Estes | Huffman | Hughes | et al.
Last Action: 07/22/2017 S Scheduled for public hearing on . . .
Caption: Relating to bonuses and salaries for public school classroom teachers and state assistance for the Texas Public School Employees Group Insurance Program.

 

SB 97 Author: Perry
Last Action: 07/23/2017 S Scheduled for public hearing on . . .
Caption: Relating to the dedication of a portion of state lottery proceeds to the funding of salary increases and bonuses for experienced public school classroom teachers and costs associated with school district teacher retirement contributions.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA! TRTA has more than 82,000 members, but there are more than 350,000 TRS retirees. That means hundreds of thousands of TRS retirees are not involved in the largest retiree organization advocating for their TRS benefits.

To improve funding for TRS-Care, we need as many retirees as possible to join TRTA and stand with us!

It is vital that you join TRTA today! If you already are a member, please ask your fellow retirees to join. Many retirees are still unaware of the impending TRS-Care changes! Let’s all work together to improve retirement benefits for current and future retirees.

Be sure to connect with us via FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Read More
21 Jul
0

Senate Finance to Meet, Lieutenant Governor Shares Message

Tomorrow, Saturday, July 22, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee will meet to discuss Senate Bill 19. The bill was filed for the first called special session of the 85th Legislature by Senator Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound) and co-authored by Senator Joan Huffman (R – Houston).

SB 19 relates to bonuses and salaries for public school classroom teachers and state assistance for the Texas Public School Employees Group Insurance Program, including TRS-Care. To read the full text of the bill, please click here.

Lieutenant Governor on TRS-Care: The Senate is committed to increased TRS-Care funding as a top priority (video statement)

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick addresses the TRS-Care issue directly in a recent video. TRTA has linked that video below.

In the video, Lieutenant Governor Patrick provides insight to the Senate’s plan on how to help address the TRS-Care issue. The plan includes as much as $212 million in additional funding that will be used to lower deductibles for the pre-65 TRS retiree from $3,000 to $1,500. The plan will also help reduce premiums for TRS retirees over age 65, as well as provide assistance to TRS retirees who may have children with disabilities.

Lieutenant Governor Patrick also comments that this Senate plan will make this additional funding permanent in the next legislative session. If this additional funding does become part of the ongoing budget strategy for TRS-Care, it will have a very positive long-term impact for this vital program.

TRTA will continue to provide as much information as possible for our members as this situation develops.

We are working diligently to negotiate the best deal possible for all TRS-Care participants. As you will recall from this morning’s update, the Texas House will have hearings on bills filed to address TRS-Care this special session.

Ultimately, any bill that helps resolve the TRS-Care situation will have to be passed in both the Senate and the House and signed by the Governor.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA! TRTA has more than 82,000 members, but there are more than 350,000 TRS retirees. That means hundreds of thousands of TRS retirees are not involved in the largest retiree organization advocating for their TRS benefits.

To improve funding for TRS-Care, we need as many retirees as possible to join TRTA and stand with us!

It is vital that you join TRTA today! If you already are a member, please ask your fellow retirees to join. Many retirees are still unaware of the impending TRS-Care changes! Let’s all work together to improve retirement benefits for current and future retirees.

Be sure to connect with us via FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

Read More