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28 Aug
0

Hurricane Harvey Resources for TRTA Members

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) are aware of Hurricane Harvey’s shocking and pervasive effects, as the storm ravaged the Texas coast over the weekend and caused significant flooding and damage to inland cities as well.

While we do not have any information on how TRTA have been affected by the storm so far, TRTA wants to remind members of valuable resources and aid that may be available to them.

Texas Retired Teachers Foundation

Many of our members already know about TRTA’s charitable partner organization, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF).

In 2013, after an explosion damaged homes, schools, and vehicles in West, Texas, TRTA members came together to donate more than $41,000 to TRTF to provide emergency assistance to retirees and pre-retirees through the well-known “A Helping Hand” program. The program provides grants to retirees and pre-retirees who are eligible to receive an annuity from the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).

Now, with Hurricane Harvey’s devastation, many TRS annuitants will experience significant damage to their homes and vehicles and may even be struggling to meet daily needs. Teachers in affected areas may be starting the school year without classroom supplies for their students or may have lost valuable education resources.

TRTF is asking members to please consider making a donation to the Foundation to help us provide assistance to educators for both immediate and long-term financial needs as a result of this catastrophic storm. Your donation could help provide someone in need with food and water, pay for a hotel stay, assist with paying for homeowner’s insurance deductibles, or repair damage to homes, vehicles, or classrooms.

To make a donation online, please click here. Donations can also be mailed to TRTF, 313 E. 12th Street Ste. 220, Austin, TX 78701. Your unrestricted donation means TRTF can direct the funds to go where they will do the most good and meet the most need.

If you or someone you know is in need of emergency financial assistance as a result of Hurricane Harvey, please send your request to help@trtf.org or call 1.800.880.1650 and leave your name and mailing address with Associate Director Cindee Sharp.

If you know friends or family who may be interested in donating to TRTF to help educators, please forward this email to them. TRTF will focus relief efforts on retired and active school employees and the public education community.

Prescriptions through TRS

Members impacted by Hurricane Harvey may be able to fill their prescriptions early through CVS Caremark and Express Scripts. Both CVS Caremark and Express Scripts have activated processes that allow one-time emergency refills of medications for plan participants in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

If you’re in an affected area, and you have questions about how to access prescriptions, please contact your pharmacy benefit manager:

  • Active employees: CVS Caremark 1-800-222-9205
  • Retirees: Express Scripts 1-877-680-4881

Federal Assistance Resources

Many counties in the path of Hurricane Harvey have been declared disaster areas, allowing residents to qualify for federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Governor Greg Abbott has added 54 counties to his state disaster declaration.

The quickest way to receive FEMA assistance is to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.com. 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. 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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15 Aug
0

Texas House Passes $212 Million in Funding for TRS-Care, Sends Bill to Governor

The Texas House and Senate came to an agreement on funding TRS-Care and have passed HB 21. HB 21 will provide $212 million towards TRS-Care, the state-run retiree health insurance program.

The funding will help retirees who are both pre-65 and over-65. Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign this bill into law.

***All numbers represented in this chart are subject to change. The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) will confirm the final numbers.***

Non-Medicare Retirees:

Reduced deductibles. (Total cost: $115 million)

  • Previously: $3,000 deductible for individuals and $6,000 for families.
  • Now: $1,500 deductible for individuals and $3,000 for families.

Reduced maximum out-of-pocket costs. (Total cost: $18.7 million)

  • Previously: $6,650 MOOP for individuals and $13,300 for families.
  • Now: $5,650 MOOP for individuals and $11,300 for families.

Reduced premiums.

  • Previously: $433/month for non-Medicare retirees with child(ren).
  • Now: $408/month for non-Medicare retirees with child(ren).
  • Previously: $739/month for non-Medicare retirees and spouse.
  • Now: $689/month for non-Medicare retirees and spouse.
  • Previously: $1,074 /month for non-Medicare retirees with family.
  • Now: $999 /month for non-Medicare retirees with family.
  • Same: $200 /month for non-Medicare individuals.

Medicare Retirees:

Reduced premiums. (Total cost: $35.5 million)

  • Previously: $146/month for Medicare retirees.
  • Now: $135/month for Medicare retirees.
  • Previously: $590/month for Medicare retirees with a spouse.
  • Now: $529/month for Medicare retirees with a spouse.
  • Previously: $504/month for Medicare retirees with child(ren).
  • Now: $468/month for Medicare retirees with child(ren).
  • Previously: $1,106/month for Medicare retirees with family.
  • Now: $1,020/month for Medicare retirees with family.

Retirees With Disabled Family Members:

Reduced premiums. (Total cost: $2.7 million)

  • Previously: $433/month for non-Medicare retirees with disabled child(ren).
  • Now: $208/month for non-Medicare retirees with disabled child(ren).
  • Previously: $504/month for Medicare retirees with disabled child(ren).
  • Now: $268/month for Medicare retirees with disabled child(ren).

Ultimately, the House decided to use the Senate’s method of finance for TRS-Care.  Texas will defer payment to managed care organizations to fund this bill.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) will have more details in the coming days about these changes and how they will impact you.

Thank You

Thank you for the thousands of emails, letters and phone calls you sent to the Senate, House and Governor’s office throughout the regular and special session.

The Texas Legislature heard retirees’ voices loud and clear when members returned for the special session.

The fight for funding will only continue on into the next Legislative session in 2019, as TRS-Care will likely undergo another budget shortfall. Your support will continue to be critical as TRTA fights for the most funding possible for TRS-Care.

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

It is only though unified action that we can enact change through the political process.

Be sure to like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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15 Aug
0

Senate Adds TRS-Care Funding to House Bill 21

On Monday, August 14, the Texas Senate met to discuss and vote upon the school finance bill, House Bill 21. As the Senate discussed the bill, several amendments were offered from the floor, including one pertaining to legislation that adds funding for the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

To view the Senate session about school finance from August 14, please click here. Conversation about TRS-Care begins at about 1 hour and 42 minutes into the video. You can read the bill text and amendments online here (see page 38 for language about TRS-Care).

As our members know, two bills have been filed during the first called special session of the 85th Legislature to address additional funding for TRS-Care. Those two bills are Senate Bill 19 and House Bill 20. As legislation has moved quickly through the bill process during this thirty-day cycle, changes are also being made at a rapid pace!

Just yesterday, the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) let members know that SB 19 continues to move through the House and will receive a vote today, Tuesday, August 15. While this action will still occur, the changes made last night to HB 21 in the Senate means HB 21 may now be the primary vehicle for moving TRS-Care legislation forward.

During discussion of HB 21 in the Senate, a floor amendment was adopted. Floor amendment 3 adds the language from SB 19 to HB 21. Senator Joan Huffman (R – Houston), who met with Representative Trent Ashby from the House to finalize the details on the amendment, said the amendment adds $212 million in funding to TRS-Care to lower premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for plan participants.

This amendment provides that the funding for TRS-Care will come from deferred payments to Medicaid managed care organizations. Huffman confirmed that this method of finance would be a one-time infusion to provide relief for the next two years for retirees who use the health insurance program.

Huffman stated, however, that it is still her commitment to continue this level of funding for TRS-Care in the future. Our members may recall that the Texas House version of this legislation would use the Economic Stabilization Fund (also known as the Rainy Day fund) to pay for the additional appropriation.

As Huffman presented the amendment, she passionately stated that “every member on this floor was contacted by a retired teacher,” letting their legislators know that the new TRS-Care plans that will go into effect in January 2018 presented a very difficult financial burden for retirees. She added that the resulting communication with retirees, TRTA, and TRS, along with Governor Abbott’s call to add TRS-Care to the special session agenda, empowered legislators to find a solution.

Huffman added that legislators are willing to make a greater financial commitment to TRS-Care, saying “we believe that if we manage our finances wisely and we make this a priority, then we will have to make it work next session because we are prioritizing our retired teachers.”

According to Huffman, the amendment changes SB 19’s language “so that as many retirees as possible would get a benefit.” The amendment was adopted without objection.

As TRTA reported yesterday, discussions will continue today in the Texas House on SB 19. TRTA will continue to update you as legislation impacting TRS-Care continues moving through the legislative process.

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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