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:
- We are grateful for your service to the state of Texas and to Texas educators.
- 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.
- Special session has provided legislators a tremendous opportunity to help retirees, and it is evident that the will to do so is strong!
- 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 for your membership to TRTA. If you are not yet a member of TRTA, please join today.