Unfortunately, Congressman Kevin Brady (R – The Woodlands) has been forced to reschedule his planned Facebook Live event with the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). Originally, the Facebook Live event was scheduled for today at 12 p.m. However, TRTA is working with Brady’s office to reschedule the event for the future.
We appreciate all the interest in the event, and we hope our member have a good Memorial Day weekend.
Thank You TRTA Members and Family who Served in our Military!
Memorial Day is our national moment to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.
Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Monday, May 25, is Memorial Day. We would encourage everyone to participate in the the National Moment of Remembrance that officially occurs at 3 pm local time wherever you are.
Remember our freedoms, the people who paid the ultimate price for our country, those who served, and those who are protecting our nation even now.
TRTA has many members and families who have sacrificed a lot to give us the freedoms that we enjoy. We truly appreciate their service, and this holiday holds a special place in our hearts.
At TRTA, we celebrate the brave men and women who served in the military. We also know that public service is a special calling and gift to the country.
As public-school education retirees, your service to our country is also recognized and appreciated. Thank you!
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.
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.
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, Rep. Mac Thornberry also isn’t signed on to either bill.
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.