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06 Mar 2020
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TRS to Testify at House PIFS Hearing on Monday, March 9

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) is set to testify this coming Monday, March 9 during a hearing of the House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services (PIFS) Committee. As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, TRS has been scrutinized for its involvement in leasing space in a downtown Austin high rise building known as the Indeed Tower.

The meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will take place in room E2.026 of the Texas Capitol. A link to the live webcast of the meeting will be made available from this website on Monday morning. A meeting agenda can be found by clicking here.

TRS recently testified before the Senate Finance Committee regarding its facilities planning and the building lease and received harsh criticism from some legislators regarding the decision. You may read more about the meeting, which was held on February 25, here.

As TRTA reported a two weeks ago, the space TRS reserved at the Indeed Tower, which is still under construction, will be sub-leased per a decision made by the TRS Board of Trustees on February 20.

After the Senate Finance Committee hearing, Senator John Whitmire called for an inquiry into TRS business practices.

“We owe it to our dedicated active and retired teachers to ensure the investments of their hard-earned pension funds are sound and transparent,” Whitmire said on February 27 in a prepared statement.

TRS responded to news of the audit by saying the agency would cooperate fully and work directly with the Attorney General and State Auditor’s Office. The TRS statement added that the agency “has a diversified asset allocation that includes a portion of holdings in private real estate” and that “TRS is specifically authorized to diversify the portfolio in this manner under Texas Government Code Sections 825.301 and 4001.068.”

TRS’s private real estate holdings are “a significant driver of excess investment return for our educators and are an important part of our Strategic Asset Allocation, making up about 13.7% of the total Trust value, or about $21.7 billion.”

TRS responded to claims that the agency has ownership in the Indeed Tower by responding “TRS is legally restricted from divulging specifics on the underlying investment holdings of any private investment fund in which TRS invests.”

Stay tuned to the Inside Line as TRTA reports on the PIFS meeting on Monday.

 

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03 Mar 2020
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Houston Methodist Hospital Will Continue to See Patients Under New Medicare Advantage Provider

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) decided to switch health care providers for both TRS-Care and TRS-Care Medicare Advantage during its recent Board of Trustees meeting. The new Medicare Advantage provider is United Healthcare, which serves retirees over the age of 65. The new TRS-Care Standard provider is BlueCross BlueShield, which serves retirees under the age of 65.

Many retirees have had questions regarding the change. Specifically, retirees want to know what effect the change will have on the provider network. Retirees in the Houston area have inquired about the status of the Houston Methodist hospital.

TRS announced today that Houston Methodist will continue to service Medicare Advantage participants.

TRS has also released FAQ pages on the transition for both Medicare Advantage and TRS-Care Standard.The change to the new health care providers will take place on Jan. 1, 2021. TRS is reporting this switch to the new providers is expected to save the health care fund more than $754 million over the next three to five years. The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is very interested to learn more about how these provider changes will “save” money and what the expectations for those “savings” may be.

TRTA is fielding questions from its membership and funneling them through TRS. There are still many unanswered questions, and we will be trying to get answers to our membership as soon as possible. When TRS announced its decision to transition to the new providers, it was announced that there would be a robust communications campaign. The campaign will include in-person meetings across the state beginning in Sept. 2020.

 

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02 Mar 2020
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TRTA 67th Convention Registration Closes March 16!

Registration for the 67th TRTA Convention to be held April 6-8, 2020 in Corpus Christi closes Monday, March 16. There’s still time to register for this exciting event by clicking here or see page 8 in the first quarter issue of The VOICE!

The convention will be held at the American Bank Center on 1901 Shoreline Boulevard. TRTA hasn’t visited this beautiful coastal town since 2013 and we are excited to return!

Shuttle busses will run in twenty-minute increments from the Omni hotel and the Holiday Inn Corpus Christi Downtown Marina hotel to the American Bank Center, with the final shuttle pickup from the convention center back to the hotels occurring at 7:00 p.m. If you want to park at the convention center, the cost is $13 for three days. However, that rate can only be purchased on the first day, April 6. Otherwise, it’s $5 per day. The convention center parking is cash only.

Now that the 86th Legislative Session has concluded, convention attendees will focus their attention on connecting the dots to TRTA’s success in Congress to repeal the unfair Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and in pursuing statewide organizational goals, such as reaching 100,000 members! Members will also hear about TRTA’s ambitious vision for Day at the Capitol 2021.

Convention events include the Catch the Wave to Wellness Fair on April 6, featuring local providers who will share information about health, fitness, and overall well-being. There’s also a welcome reception featuring musical entertainment by the Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco Mariachi Azul y Plata band.

Attendees can meet the candidates running for TRTA state office on April 7 during our inaugural Coffee with the Candidates event and attend opening ceremonies. District caucus meetings follow, then a legislative luncheon. The afternoon continues with two hour-long informational and training sessions. A “coastal social” ends the day at 4:15 p.m. with an optional “beach bingo” night!

Day three (April 8) includes the House of Delegates, as well as a fundraising luncheon for TRTF. Attendees will be able to present gifts to the Foundation in honor or in memory of a loved one, friend, or colleague. House of Delegates continues in the afternoon and the convention concludes once all association business has been completed.

Be sure to register for convention today! The deadline is March 16. You may register online today by visiting www.trta.org/2020convention. If you plan to attend one of the free evening socials on April 6 or 7, please RSVP so that TRTA may collect an accurate headcount.

For attendees who do not wish to attend the convention luncheons, concession stands will be available each day. Additionally, Hester’s Café, located at 1902 Shoreline Boulevard at the Art Museum of South Texas, is open for lunch Tuesday and Wednesday.

We hope you will join us in Corpus Christi in April for convention on the beautiful Texas coast!

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