16 Oct

Countdown to the General Election: Texas Educator Voting Day is October 22!

Countdown to the General Election: Texas Educator Voting Day is October 22!

Early voting begins next Monday, October 22 and continues through Friday, November 2. Please make a plan to vote early!

We encourage you to support your local educators and new student voters by voting on Texas Educator Voting Day. Texas Educators Vote and many other education organizations across Texas are celebrating our Texas success in registering over 1.7 million new voters this year—a record for a mid-term election in Texas—by encouraging educators to go vote together. Please read the message below from Texas Educators Vote.

Educator Voting Day: October 22, 2018

We have just passed the voter registration deadline, and there are now more than 15.7 million registered Texans! That is an increase of close to 1.7 million voters since 2014. Your dedication to registering all staff and students surely contributed to this 12% increase in registered voters.

Now is the time to make sure that every registered voter actually votes. In March 2018, 77% of voting-age Texans were registered to vote, but only 13% voted. Registration is a necessary first step, but turnout determines elections.

We hereby declare the first day of early voting, October 22nd, 2018, to be Educator Voting Day! Encourage your staff to vote early, wear their “I Voted” sticker, and model civic engagement for students! The Texas Secretary of State has declared the first Friday of early voting to be Student Voting Day. Please plan for both of these important upcoming events.

To do:

  1.      Share the news that Monday, October 22nd is Educator Voting Day.
  2.      Share the news that Friday, October 26th is Student Voting Day.
  3.      Encourage voters to research candidates and their views on public education issues.
  4.      Share our website where voters can learn about how and why voting is so important.
  5.      Share key dates:
    1.      October 22-November 2: Early voting period
    2.      October 22: Educator Voting Day
    3.      October 26: Student Voting Day
    4.      November 6: Election Day

Social Media Posts you may share:

  1. Educator Voting Day is October 22nd. Model civic engagement by voting the first day of early voting and proudly wearing your “I Voted” sticker! #txed #vote
  2. Student Voting Day is October 26th. Share the news! #txed #vote
  3. Elections are determined by who shows up! Plan when and how you will vote today! #txed #vote 

TRTA says “Thank you!” to our leaders and all of our dedicated members for your efforts to encourage civic engagement. You should feel great about what we have accomplished together so far! Let’s celebrate by crossing the finish line together: VOTE EARLY!

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10 Oct

Your Health Care Coverage: Making the Best Choice

From time to time the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) previews its news bulletin, The VOICE.

Below you will find excerpts from an article on how TRTA is working to preserve TRS-Care and provide the best health care options for retired educators.

You can read the entire article here.

TRS–Care has provided health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of retired educators and many dependents for more than three decades—a much needed benefit for those who dedicated their lives to school children and who live on modest fixed incomes. Legislative changes in 2017 resulted in a plan that does not always fit all needs for all plan participants.

The changes to TRS–Care last year created a difficult situation for many Texas public education retirees, not just for plan participants, but also for the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) and legislators. Previously, TRS–Care offered multiple plans to choose from. Now there’s one (each for over 65 retirees and for under-65 retirees), and that one–size–fits–all plan doesn’t work for every retiree or dependent. This new reality is motivating some TRS-Care participants to consider the individual Medicare marketplace where health care options vary widely.

More than 37,000 TRS-Care participants left and enrolled in an individual plan in 2017. Since then, many TRTA members have told us that a local broker has advertised that they can offer members a lower rate and better coverage than the current TRS–Care plan. Members have asked us if that is true and, if so, is TRTA offering any sponsored, trusted program to evaluate alternative options to TRS–Care? Whether TRS-Care is right for you depends on your individual needs.

In an effort to help our members, we’ve taken an in-depth look at TRS-Care, and you will find this information in the upcoming edition of The VOICE.

Due to our members’ demand for TRTA to find a trusted partner in the individual Medicare marketplace, we are proud to announce our partnership with Via Benefits Insurance Services brought to you by our benefits partner AMBA.

Does that Mean TRTA is in the Insurance Business? Is TRTA Competing Against TRS-Care?

No, TRTA is not in the insurance business. We are not competing with TRS or TRS-Care.

We are working with Via Benefits to provide a marketplace of Medicare policy options to retirees over the age of 65 with both Medicare A and B coverage. We’ve developed this plan because TRTA represents the entire population of TRS retirees. Prior to the changes to TRS-Care, there were many TRTA members in the individual Medicare marketplace. Since the changes, that number has grown significantly, and all of these members are looking to TRTA for a trusted partner to work with.

That tells us a lot of people need help with their Medicare options. TRTA’s number one priority is helping public education retirees. We’re leveraging our membership size with Via Benefits to offer something that our members can use and that no one else can deliver. Via Benefits is a trusted benefit partner with organizations in the states of Ohio and Nevada, and with large private employers like General Motors. TRTA is the largest retired educator organization in the nation and we are offering a marketplace driven solution for those who need it.

What do you say to someone considering the individual marketplace?

The first thing I tell them is to stop and evaluate their position. If you leave, you can’t come back. If you’re a dependent, and you’re saying that you need something else, then I would look to a marketplace solution that’s very transparent. But first you should talk to TRS for consultation. If the issue with the health care is purely about cost, then you can compare TRS–Care to the marketplace. If there’s another reason, then I suspect that a lot of those issues can be resolved by working with TRS. If you decide to leave TRS–Care, work with a partner that you can trust. TRTA has searched all over the country for a group we believe represents our values and expectations when working with a retiree or dependent who needs a plan in the individual Medicare marketplace.

TRTA supports TRS–Care as the best first option for retirees.

Who’s Via Benefits?

Via Benefits is the oldest and largest private Medicare marketplace that will, at no cost to you, review your health care plan to ensure that you have the coverage that is right for your 2019 needs and budget.

They do this by comparing your current coverage and anticipated needs to the coverage offered by the leading national and regional plans available in your area. They offer a selection of affordable and competitive plans including Medicare Advantage, guaranteed issue Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans.

A 15–minute conversation with a Via Benefits licensed benefit advisor will help you understand whether an individual Medicare plan is a better fit—offering equal to or better coverage for less cost. These knowledgeable advisors have helped more than 1.8 million retirees find coverage that meets their needs and budget.

Is TRTA Recommending this Over TRS–Care?

We know your health care options have changed. Everyone’s situation is unique. For many, TRS–Care is still a great option. For others, TRS–Care does not fit as well as it once did when there were more plan options. We want what is best for every TRS retiree. If you are a TRTA member and you want an option in the individual Medicare marketplace, you won’t find a better partner than Via Benefits.

What You Can Expect When You Call Via Benefits

The advisor will ask a few questions, such as:

  • How is your health?
  • What medications do you take?
  • Who are your doctors, and what are your preferred hospitals?
  • What are your 2019 travel plans (if you plan to travel)?
  • What do you like about your current TRS–Care coverage?

They’ll take this information and find a selection of insurance plans that meet the criteria you’ve outlined. They’ll review each option, giving you ample opportunity to clarify plan details. Once you understand the plans available in your area and how they compare to your current plan, you’ll be able to make an informed choice about your 2019 coverage. If the advisor’s recommendation is that TRS–Care is the right plan for your needs and budget, the advisor will let you know. If you decide that an alternative plan is a better fit, the advisor will help you complete and submit your application.

Via Benefits:

  • Has been vetted and approved by TRTA and AMBA
  • Employs benefit advisors that provide unbiased advice at no cost to you—benefit advisors are salaried and focused on finding you the right plan
  • Offers thousands of plans from over 125 insurers
  • Enables you to evaluate and understand your coverage options

Why You Should Review Your Health Care Coverage Every Year

  • Your needs and medications change, and so should your coverage
  • Plan rates change
  • Peace of mind

Is TRTA Being Paid by Via Benefits to Offer This Alternative?

No, TRTA is not being paid by Via Benefits. This is an option we support for our members to have the flexibility they may need in their health care choices.

As a reminder, be sure to look for the complete article when The VOICE is released!

VIA Benefits Contact Information

+1 888 651 7306 | TTY: 711
Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.


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09 Oct

TRTA Releases New Video Series: “TRS Retirees Deserve Better!”

Last Day to Register to Vote!

Today is the last day to register to vote! TRTA wants to see all of its members out at the voting polls. You can register to vote here.

Read a special message from TRTA’s Informative & Protective Services committee about the importance of voting!

New Video Series

The 86th Texas legislative session begins Jan. 8, 2019. Prior to that, the midterm elections are on Nov. 6, 2018, and early voting runs from Oct. 22, 2018 through Nov. 2.

Retired educators will have much at stake when lawmakers come to Austin. TRTA is prepared to go to the Legislature. We are going to fight for more pension funding, benefit enhancements for TRS retirees and improved TRS-Care funding.

We are hearing from many of our friends in the Legislature, as well as those seeking office, that the issues related to TRS are important and require resolution.

As a TRTA member or supporter, we know you are already doing your part to help us achieve our policy agenda next session.

If you are new to TRTA, or perhaps you are not yet a member, we want you to know our member advocacy effort is effective, efficient and inclusive. As one TRTA member recently said to me, “We need to get everyone off the sidelines and in the game. I want to tell all TRS retirees to stop messing around, let’s get tough and get active with TRTA!

We agree! There are more than 440,000 TRS retirees or beneficiaries. TRTA membership is growing fast, but we still to get everyone on the team, suited up and ready to win.

This all starts with some very simple, but crucial action steps over the next few weeks and months:

  1. Join TRTA membership and get involved in a local unit—This is the team, we need you on the team! Every coach knows that the team that shows up to work and make things happen is a big part of winning.
  2. Plan to vote—no excuses! Many people tell us they need to know who to vote for. TRTA does not endorse candidates. That said, political leaders and legislators and office seekers are showing up at TRTA local meetings right now! Your friends and colleagues are happy to talk to you about this. If all else fails, call the people running for office and ask where they stand on TRS.
  3. After the vote, no matter the outcome, be prepared to support the people elected and educate, motivate and push them to achieve great outcomes for TRS retirees.
  4. Never, ever, give up. No one can predict what the Legislature will do. Every session is unique and TRTA always plays to win.

Our new video series focuses on key issues for TRS retirees.

This is a short series of videos with the purpose of informing our members and legislators on issues concerning our annuities and health care program.

The video series will cover the following issues:

  • The lack of cost-of-living increases, also known as COLAs, for TRS retirees
  • The change to TRS’s rate of return assumption
  • The necessity for greater TRS-Care funding
  • And the power of a strong defined benefit plan.

These issues form the core of our advocacy strategy and the key to retirement security.

Retirees across the state will be busy voting for and working with legislators in the coming months. By completing these tasks, we want to see our retirees reap the best possible benefits for their years of service.

And we want everyone running for office in Texas to know, understand, and agree that TRS retirees deserve retirement security. TRS Retirees Deserve Better, period!

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