The Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) members have been communicating with fellow retirees, active teachers and their legislators back home since the 85thLegislative Session concluded on Memorial Day.
Many public education retirees in Texas are understandably concerned about how their fixed monthly income will support the impending changes to the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program. As our members may recall, TRS-Care faced a $1 billion shortfall this session. Without legislative action, this shortfall would have fallen entirely on the backs of retirees, causing premiums to spike to an estimated $1,200 to $1,500 per month.
Instead, House Bill 3976 was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. This bill, though not a perfect solution to a program that continues to experience financial crises, was a necessary step as we move forward in keeping TRS-Care alive. Without its passage, TRS-Care would have closed within one to two years, leaving Texas educators without access to a health care option through the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS).
However, the expected deductibles for the under age 65 group may put many retirees at risk for financial insolvency or force them to choose to between health care and daily staples needed to live.
Likewise, the lack of prescription drug coverage for the under age 65 group will make drugs unaffordable for many retirees. We have also heard concerns that the spousal and dependent costs for the over age 65 age group are untenable.
TRTA has heard from thousands of members across the state through Facebook, emails and phone calls. We hear your concerns and we want you to know that our work is not done!
The Texas Legislature begins a special session called for by the Governor on July 18. TRTA fully intends to ask Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus to increase funding for TRS-Care.
As TRTA continues working with legislators this week, please know an action alert will be released soon and we will be asking for participation from all of our members! We need all TRTA members—and any friends and active school personnel you know—to rally to the cause and ensure our collective voice is heard! While we are grateful that TRS-Care is no longer on a path to complete and total collapse, retirees simply cannot bear a significant financial burden to keep the program alive.
Rallies Planned at Texas Capitol and More
Many TRTA members, friends, and active educators are participating in or planning rallies throughout the state to ask for more support for TRS-Care and other education issues. We encourage our members to participate in these events and reach out to your Senators and Representatives and invite them to attend as well.
Here are some events TRTA is participating in or sponsoring over the next couple of weeks. If possible, make a plan to attend! (Click on the links to learn more about each event)
- Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Make Your Voice Heard Education Rally, Longview, Gregg County Courthouse (front lawn) (Note: TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee speaking)
- Monday, July 17, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. Texans for Public Education Rally, Austin, Texas Capitol (Note: TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee speaking)
- Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. March for Public Education, Austin, Texas Capitol
Bills Filed for Special Session
TRTA has been communicating with several legislators since session ended, and bills already have been filed to address retiree issues for the coming special session. TRTA anticipates that more bills will be filed after the July 18 start date.
Representative Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) has filed two bills:
Relating to a supplemental appropriation for Teacher Retirement System of Texas retiree health.
Relating to a cost-of-living adjustment applicable to certain benefits paid by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
TRTA will keep members informed as the special session progresses!
Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you are not yet a member of TRTA, please join today.