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12 Sep
0

TRTF Disaster Relief Fund Raises More than $100,000! Hurricane Harvey Grants Now Available

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, TRTA’s charitable partner organization, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) has been raising funds to provide financial assistance for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

TRTF is pleased to announce that thanks to the overwhelming outpour of generosity from TRTA members, friends and supporters, we have raised more than $120,000 so far!

The TRTF Board of Trustees is so very thankful for your support. As a result of receiving these donations, TRTF has been able to set up a Disaster Relief Fund and already has been disbursing financial assistance to retired and active educators in the affected counties.

How to Donate

TRTF is still accepting donations for the Disaster Relief Fund and will continue helping as many people as possible until all funds are expended. PLEASE DONATE TODAY!

To donate online, please click here. You may also mail in your donation to: TRTF, 313 E. 12th Street Suite 220, Austin, TX 78701.

How to Request Assistance

TRTF is offering two methods for applicants requesting assistance. Please share this information with retirees and active educators you know who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please also share this information at your local unit meetings this fall! You can learn more on the TRTF website by clicking here.

  1. Disaster Relief Fund: Short-Term Assistance

For immediate, short-term needs, Hurricane Harvey victims may request direct financial assistance from the Disaster Relief Fund. Grants in the amount of $250 will be approved for members of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), including retirees and current active school personnel, until all funds are expended. Funds will be sent to the recipient in the form of a check, and may be used for whatever emergency needs the recipient sees fit, such as purchasing groceries, water, gasoline or paying for hotel stays.

To request an application, please click here. Please note proof of income or employment is required to verify TRS membership; however, income will not be considered as a factor when approving grants.

  1. Disaster Relief Fund: Long-Term Assistance

Donors familiar with our emergency assistance program, “A Helping Hand,” know that the program provides grants on behalf of recipients for items such as home and vehicle repairs, medical and dental bills, hearing aids, and many other emergency needs. Through this program, TRTF pays vendors on behalf of aid recipients, usually up to $1,000, or more in exceptional cases. Similarly, the long-term assistance request through the TRTF Disaster Relief Fund will require that the recipient have access to their home in order to take photos of damage, and also requires that a bill or bid from a vendor be included (or a copy of the insurance policy demonstrating the cost of the deductible to be met). Similarly, funds will be disbursed to the vendor, not the grant seeker. TRTF will be able to offer long-term assistance for Hurricane Harvey victims through the Disaster Relief Fund until all funds are expended. To request an application, please click here.

For questions about the TRTF Disaster Relief Fund, please send an email to help@trtf.org and be sure to include your contact information.

How to Apply for Assistance from FEMA

If damage to your home or vehicle is extensive, please be sure to apply for federal aid through FEMA. The quickest way to receive FEMA assistance is to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. If you don’t have Internet access, you may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you know a retiree who is not yet a member of TRTA, please encourage them to join.

Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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11 Sep
0

TRS Accepting RSVPs for Health Care Information Seminars

As the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) reported recently, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) has established a plan for informing plan participants about changes to TRS-Care, including the start and end dates for the much-anticipated in-person retiree seminars that will begin in October.

The original plan was for TRS to have 88 meetings over 40 days, but those plans have since been altered due to Hurricane Harvey. Due to flooding in Houston and the surrounding areas, many event centers are not available for in-person sessions. TRS has added webinars for those unable to attend one of the in-person sessions.

TRS has released the schedule for these seminars, and retirees will have the opportunity to RSVP via telephone starting today, September 11, 2017. Please view the charts below as well for dates and times. TRS released this flyer to inform plan participants about the coming changes to TRS-Care.

How to RSVP to In-Person Seminars

Seating is limited, so be sure to sign up to attend a free session to learn more about your TRS-Care benefits. Please call 1-800-850-1992 (TTY: 711) Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Central time.

In-Person Seminars Schedule

TRS and its health plan partners are holding information sessions on the 2018 TRS-Care changes throughout the state and online. RSVP is required. Please call 1-800-850-1992 (TTY: 711) to RSVP to an in-person seminar.

PLEASE NOTE: There are two different sessions at each seminar for participants with and without Medicare. Every seminar location will offer a morning session and an afternoon session for both Medicare-eligible participants and non-Medicare participants (except the Lufkin and Nacogdoches locations which will host morning sessions only).

Morning Sessions (The Same Schedule Is Used for Every In-Person Morning Seminar)

2018 Health Benefits for Participants with Medicare

9:00 – 9:15 a.m. TRS – Opening
9:15 – 10:00 a.m. Humana – TRS-Care Medicare Advantage Plan (medical)
10:00 – 10:30 a.m. SilverScript – TRS-Care Medicare Rx (prescription)

2018 Health Benefits for Participants without Medicare

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Aetna and CVS Caremark – TRS-Care Standard Plan (medical and prescription benefits)

Afternoon Sessions (The Same Schedule Is Used for Every In-Person Afternoon Seminar)

2018 Health Benefits for Participants with Medicare

1:30 – 1:45 p.m. TRS – Opening
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Humana – TRS-Care Medicare Advantage Plan (medical)
2:30 – 3:00 p.m. SilverScript – TRS-Care Medicare Rx (prescription)

2018 Health Benefits for Participants without Medicare

3:15 – 4:30 p.m. Aetna and CVS Caremark – TRS-Care Standard Plan (medical and prescription benefits)

In-Person Seminars, Arranged by Area of the State

Central Texas

Date

City

Location

Address

Oct. 25 Austin (SW) Texas Old Town (Stone Hall) 1205 Roland Ln, Kyle, TX 78640
Oct. 26 Austin (SE) Austin Marriott South (Lonestar Salon AB) 4415 South IH-35, Austin, TX 78744
Oct. 24 Round Rock United Heritage Center at Dell Diamond (Ballroom) 3400 East Palm Valley Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665
Oct. 23 Waco Extraco Events Center (Creative Arts Building) 4601 Bosque Blvd, Waco, TX 76710

East Texas

Date

City

Location

Address

Oct. 19 (morning session only) Lufkin Shelton’s Place 3603 FM 2108, Lufkin, TX 75901
Oct. 18 (morning session only) Nacogdoches Southern Bliss 5419 Hwy 59 South, Nacogdoches, TX 75964
Oct. 16 & Oct. 17 Tyler/Athens Magnuson Grand Hotel & Conference Center (Magnolia Ballroom) 3310 Troup Hwy, Tyler, TX 75701

Houston Metro Area

Date

City

Location

Address

Oct. 9 Beaumont / Port Arthur MCM Elegante Hotel (Grand Ballroom) 2355 I-10 South, Beaumont, TX 77705
Oct. 18 Bryan / College Station / Brenham Brazos County Exposition Complex (Ground Level-West Texas Ballroom) 5827 Leonard Rd, Bryan, TX 77807
Oct. 19 Conroe / Huntsville THE SPRINGS Event Venue in Lake Conroe (Stonebrook Hall) 14135 Laramie Trail, Montgomery, TX 77316

North Texas

Date

City

Location

Address

Oct. 16 Arlington Sheraton Arlington Hotel (Champions Ballroom) 1500 Convention Center Dr, Arlington, TX 76011
Oct. 18 Dallas (SE) Mesquite Convention Center (Salon A) 1700 Rodeo Dr, Mesquite, TX 75149
Oct. 19 Dallas / Duncanville (South) Hilton Garden Inn Dallas / Duncanville (Grand Ballroom) 800 North Main St, Duncanville, TX 75116
Oct. 12 DFW Mid-Cities Holiday Inn DFW West (Lonestar Ballroom) 3005 West Airport Fwy, Bedford, TX 76021
Oct. 11 Denton / Lewisville Hilton Garden Inn Dallas / Lewisville (Tuscany I & II) 785 TX-121, Lewisville, TX 75067
Oct. 20 Fort Worth Fort Worth ESC – Region 11 (Innovate A-B-C) 1451 South Cherry Ln, White Settlement, TX 76108
Oct. 13 Garland / Richardson Richardson ESC – Region 10 (Pecan-Bluebonnet Room) 904 Abrams Rd, Richardson, TX 75081
Oct. 17 Granbury / Stephenville Granbury Resort Conference Center (Lake Granbury Ballroom) 621 East State Loop 426, Granbury, TX 76048
Oct. 10 Sherman / Dennison / Bonham / Paris Hilton Garden Inn Denison / Sherman at Texoma Event Center (Magnolia I & II) 5015 US-75, Denison, TX 75020
Oct. 9 Wichita Falls Wichita Falls ESC – Region 17 (Main Room) 301 Loop 11, Wichita Falls, TX 76306

South Texas

Date

City

Location

Address

Oct. 30 Kerrville / Fredericksburg Inn of the Hills Resort & Conference Center (Grand Ballroom South) 1001 Junction Hwy, Kerrville, TX 78028
Oct. 31 San Antonio (W / SW / Castroville) Braden Keller Community Center / David DeCock Gym (across from the St. Louis Catholic Church) 1410 Amelia St, Castroville, TX 78009
Nov. 1 San Antonio (NW) Hyatt Regency Hill Country (Fredericksburg Ballroom) 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio, TX 78251
Nov. 2 San Antonio (NE) San Antonio Shrine Auditorium 901 North Loop 1604, San Antonio, TX 78232
Oct. 23 & Oct. 24 Weslaco The Hynes Event Center at Llano Grande 2215 East West Blvd, Mercedes, TX 78570

West Texas

Date

City

Location

Address

Oct. 13 Abilene Abilene ESC – Region 14 (Shelhamer Room) 1850 Hwy 351, Abilene, TX 76901
Oct. 9 Amarillo Amarillo ESC – Region 16 (Panhandle Conference Center-ABCD) 5800 Bell St, Amarillo, TX 79109
Oct. 20 El Paso Radisson Hotel – El Paso Airport (Venetian Grand Ballroom) 1770 Airway Blvd, El Paso, TX 79925
Oct. 10 Lubbock / Plainview Lubbock ESC – Region 17 (Main Room) 1111 West Loop 289, Lubbock, TX 79416
Oct. 11 Odessa / Midland MCM Grande FunDome Hotel (Rooms A & B) 6201 East Business 20, Odessa, TX 79762
Oct. 12 San Angelo Pearl on the Concho Historic Hotel (Riverside Convention Center) 333 Rio Concho Dr, San Angelo, TX 76903

Due to flooding in Houston and the surrounding areas, many event centers are not available for in-person sessions. We have added webinars for those unable to attend one of the in-person sessions.

Online Webinar Schedules

Non-Medicare Webinars

If you’re unable to attend an in-person event, join TRS for one of its webinar sessions about the benefits for participants without Medicare who will have coverage through the TRS-Care Standard plan. TRS, Aetna and CVS Caremark will participate and can answer your questions about the 2018 benefits. Register for an online webinar here.

Non-Medicare Webinar Schedule

Date

Time

Oct. 17

10:00 a.m.

Oct. 19

2:00 p.m.

Oct. 24

10:00 a.m.

Oct. 26

10:00 a.m.

Oct. 31

2:00 p.m.

Nov. 7

10:00 a.m.

Nov. 8

2:00 p.m.

Nov. 9

10:00 a.m.

Medicare Webinars

If you’re unable to attend an in-person event, join TRS for one of its webinar sessions about the benefits for participants with Medicare who will have coverage through TRS-Care Medicare Advantage and TRS-Care Medicare Rx. TRS, Humana and SilverScript will participate and can answer your questions about the 2018 benefits.

Register for an online presentation on Humana’s website and you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to sign in and view the live online presentation and Q&A session.

Medicare Webinar Schedule

Date

Time

Oct. 17

2:00 p.m.

Oct. 19

10:00 a.m.

Oct. 24

2:00 p.m.

Oct. 26

2:00 p.m.

Oct. 31

10:00 a.m.

Nov. 7

2:00 p.m.

Nov. 8

10:00 a.m.

Nov. 9

2:00 p.m.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you know a retiree who is not yet a member of TRTA, please encourage them to join.

Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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01 Sep
0

TRS Board Adopts Legislative Changes to TRS-Care

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met Friday, September 1, 2017 to approve the new TRS-Care retiree health insurance plans as laid out during the first called Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature. As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) may recall, Governor Greg Abbott added TRS-Care to the special session call this summer after retirees across the state expressed serious concerns about high deductibles and premiums.

TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee provided public comment.

“At every level,” Lee said, “the leaders of the legislative branch (and executive branch) were involved in addressing retirees concerns.” Lee included thanking Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus. “The leaders in the state have not forgotten about the service educators have given to Texas.”

More importantly, Lee expressed thanks for the commitment hundreds of thousands of retired and active teachers put into contacting legislators about improving the plans. Lee thanked the trustees and TRS staff for sharing information in a timely fashion.

Lee lauded TRS for working to the Legislature to “provide the information we needed to help improve this situation.”

Lee also addressed the issue of return-to-work provisions. These provisions have been impacting more and more retirees, and they have very little tolerance for minor infractions. Nonetheless, these provisions sometimes penalize retirees who never intended to infringe upon the rules.

The TRS Board expressed its gratitude for the information, and reaffirmed its commitment to working with TRTA and stakeholders to find areas of improvement.

TRS Chief Health Care Officer Katrina Daniel made a presentation to the board members with the plan changes as reflected by the additional $212 million provided by the Legislature.

Daniel addressed the concerns retirees have had about medical providers accepting Medicare Advantage. Daniel stated that 96 percent of providers were willing to bill Humana for the Medicare Advantage plan.

“I’ve yet to see a provider that’s not willing to bill Humana,” Daniel said.

TRTA members have reported from all over the state that various doctors or providers have said they will not take the Humana Medicare Advantage program. Today’s discussion pointed out that many times the providers mistake TRS-Care plan as an “individual Medicare Advantage” plan. These providers are experiencing confusion about the far richer benefits provided through the TRS-Care “group” plan.

If your doctor says they do not accept Medicare Advantage, print this form and bring it to them. They can direct any questions they have to TRS.

Since TRS-Care is its own group, it can set different rules and provide richer benefits for retirees as well as special program components that help ensure provider acceptance. TRS is working on communications strategies to clarify these differences with providers. TRS is urging retirees to speak to providers who are claiming not to accept the TRS-Care coverage.

Daniel also detailed the communication plan TRS has crafted to reach out to retirees about the health care changes. She described the plan as “very robust.” As a part of this communication effort, TRS is providing retirees with an enrollment kit. These enrollment kits include a document that can be taken to health care providers explaining the payment situation.

“We’ve never undertaken a communications effort on this scale,” said Daniel.

TRTA shared the communications timeline provided by TRS in an Inside Line recently. This timeline establishes the plan TRS has made for informing plan participants about changes to TRS-Care and includes the start and end dates for the much-anticipated in-person retiree seminars that will begin in October.

The original plan was for TRS to have 88 meetings over 40 days, but those plans have since been derailed due to Hurricane Harvey. TRS has released the schedule for these seminars, and retirees will have the opportunity to RSVP online starting Sept. 11, 2017.

During his presentation, Tim Lee stressed the importance of releasing the retiree information seminar schedule as soon as possible, as many retirees who may have concerns about whether or not to stay with the plan may make an irrevocable decision without having enough information to make an educated choice. He also asked TRS to consider administrative and procedural accommodations for retirees as the changes to TRS-Care are drastic.

The TRS Board Meeting Book from September 1 includes the TRS-Care rates and benefits for FY 2018. (The charts you see below can also be viewed from the Tab 9 link).

The TRS website is also a great source of information about all current and future TRS-Care plans:

High Deductible Health Plan for Retirees under Age 65

HD Monthly Premium Rates

HD Plan Prescription Information for 2018

TRS has also provided TRTA with the list of approved generic drugs that will be covered under the TRS-Care high deductible health care plan for retirees under the age of 65. You can view that list by clicking here.

NOTICE: Current Plan Year (2017) Prescription Changes

Retirees under age 65 using the current TRS-Care plans have also been transitioned to a new prescription plan for the remainder of the current plan year (September 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017). CVS Caremark will now be the prescription drug provider. Learn more by clicking here. You can also click the links below to check on prescription costs for the remainder of 2017.

2017 Plan Year (Your current plan through Dec. 31, 2017)
TRS-Care 1 Plan – Check Drug Cost
TRS-Care 2 Plan – Check Drug Cost
TRS-Care 3 Plan – Check Drug Cost

New Medicare Advantage Plan for Retirees Age 65 and Older

New Medicare Prescription Drug Plan

  • Prescription drug benefits for non-Medicare participants will be integrated with medical benefits and subject to the plan’s deductible and out-of-pocket maximums.
  • Prescription drug benefits for Medicare participants will be provided through a Medicare Part D plan.
  • Please note, the above chart does not mention that the mail order cost refers to a 3-month supply. (Click this link to learn more).
  • Unlike the under age 65 prescription plan, the new provider, CVS Caremark SilverScripts, will not take over until January 1, 2018.

What If I Can Not Afford Dependent Premiums?

Medicare eligible retirees and dependents thinking about leaving TRS-Care need to be cautious. If you leave TRS-Care, TRS may not let you re-enroll.

Please remember, your benefits do not change until Jan. 1, 2018. This extra time will allow you to consider all of your options. TRS is just starting the education process.

The TRS Medicare Advantage plan is a group plan, which contains rich benefits. The plan cannot be replicated in the individual market.

However, many TRTA members have expressed that the TRS-Care plan is unaffordable. If you are looking to the individual market as an alternative to TRS-Care, know that TRTA has heard your concerns.

We are studying the individual Medicare market, and we are working with potential vendors to find alternative plans. We will make an announcement about these options with our members this fall.

What Do These Plan Changes Mean for the Future of TRS-Care?

While the full results of these changes remain to be seen, it is expected that TRS-Care will still experience a revenue shortfall by the next biennium. Benefit and premium changes resulting from the special session of the Legislature are projected to increase the FY2021 shortfall by $212 million with no further rate and benefit adjustments by the TRS board for the 2019 plan year.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. Our hearts go out to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

If you know a retiree who is not yet a member of TRTA, please encourage them to join.

Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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