14 Aug

Senate Bill 19 On House Calendar for August 15

Send an email to your Representative TODAY!

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, there is a limited amount of time left to pass legislation providing more funding for TRS-Care during the first called special session of the 85th Legislature. The special session will end this Wednesday, August 16.

Senate Bill 19 has been placed on the House General State Calendar for tomorrow, Tuesday, August 15. The bill proposes $212.7 million in funding for TRS-Care to reduce some costs for ALL retirees in TRS-Care. Available funds will be used to bring down deductible, out-of-pocket, and dependent premium costs for pre-65 retirees, as well as premiums and dependent costs for retirees over the age of 65. If passed, this bill would make the new TRS-Care plans that go into effect in January 2018 more affordable for plan participants.

Over the weekend, the House Appropriations Committee met to vote on SB 19, passing the bill unanimously. Tomorrow’s House floor vote will determine whether or not the bill continues to progress in the legislative process.

A live webcast of the House floor discussion and vote on SB 19 will be available from this link tomorrow when the House convenes.

We all want more for TRS-Care, and this additional appropriation is a major step forward and a direct response from the Governor and the Legislature to the needs of public education retirees.

TRTA thanks you for your persistence in ensuring that a bill to provide more funding for TRS-Care continues to move forward. Your voices, coming together as one, are influential! Without the constant communication from retirees all across the state, additional funding for the program will not be possible!

Don’t forget to Send an email to your Representative TODAY!

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

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13 Aug

Urgent Member Alert: Call Your State Leaders NOW; Ask Them to Send a TRS-Care Bill to the Governor!

Dear TRTA Members and Supporters,

As you know, two bills have advanced through the Legislature that provide additional funding for TRS-Care. These two bills are Senate Bill 19 and House Bill 20.

With only a few days left in special session, the work on TRS-Care is not done and this session could end without a bill advancing to the Governor to help retirees.

Here are some things you need to know:

  • With so little time left in the session, we need action;
  • TRS-Care can be improved if the Legislature reaches consensus and advances this issue;
  • Retired educators NEED help and we need it now;
  • We need legislative leadership from Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus to unify on a plan so that a bill helping TRS-Care is advanced!

TRTA members and supporters, now is the time to engage! Do not wait until session is over to ask what your legislator did to help you.

Please call the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House today!

Make a plan to call every day until special session is over or until a strategy is identified to help TRS-Care and a bill is passed! Stay up to date on our Facebook, Twitter, and email updates.

Please share this message when you call:

Governor Abbott/Lieutenant Governor Patrick/Speaker Straus:

  • TRS-Care needs help.
  • Additional appropriation has been identified to help TRS-Care. Plans have been developed on how to use these dollars.
  • But, progress is advancing slowly and time is very short!
  • Please support Senators Jane Nelson and Joan Huffman and Representatives John Zerwas and Trent Ashby and come together on a plan to finish the job on TRS-Care.

Governor Abbott
(800) 843-5789 – Information and Referral Hotline (for Texas callers)
(512) 463-1782 – Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline (for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers)

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick
The Texas Lieutenant Governor Comment Line: (512) 463-5342
The Texas Lieutenant Governor Office Line: (512) 463-0001

Speaker Joe Straus
(512) 463-1000
Or use toll-free Legislator Hotline: 888.674.3788

TRTA members, we are at a point in session when there is no such thing as too much communication. Approximately $212.7 million additional appropriation is at stake! These funds will reduce premiums or out-of-pocket costs for TRS-Care participants.

Use the numbers above to call Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick, and Speaker Straus today.

Remember, TRTA always maintains a professional and encouraging approach in our advocacy efforts. We want the Legislature to want to help us. No one is effective when attacking those who have the power to help. If they choose not to help us, your most effective recourse is your vote.

This is the last push before the end of the special session. TRTA never quits, never stops, never slows down, and never gives up. If you can help send some additional power in our direction with some phone calls, I know it will have an impact.

Thank you for your strong support of this organization. If you are not a member, please consider joining TRTA. The defense of your pension and health care benefits is a full-time, all-the-time responsibility. This is what we do, but we cannot do it without you.

Thank you,

Tim Lee
Executive Director
Texas Retired Teachers Association

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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11 Aug

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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