Earlier today Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) removed Senate Bill 788 from the docket to be considered by the Senate. The bill would have made major reforms to TRS-Care, including creating a high deductible health care plan for pre-65 retired educators and switching all Medicare eligible retirees to Medicare Advantage.
Now that the bill has been pulled, alternative legislation needs to be proposed to fund and maintain TRS-Care. If no alternative legislation is proposed and passed, TRS-Care will not be able to continue. According to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), without new funding and plan design changes, TRS-Care will be sent into a “death spiral.” If this occurs, retired teachers’ health care will go away. TRS-Care’s current budget shortfall is $1 billion.
Retired teachers are willing to do their part in contributing towards a solution to this shortfall. However, some of the provisions in SB 788 were beyond retirees’ means. In particular, the $4,000 deductible and $7,150 out of pocket maximum, combined with no prescription drug plan, was untenable for many pre-65 retirees. The plan could have forced many retirees into poverty in order to maintain the health care plan.
With no Senate action on the immediate horizon, the need for TRTA members to support the House of Representatives’ efforts to propose and pass legislation reforming TRS-Care has increased. We will work with House leaders and appropriators to craft a solution that helps our members and allows them to have access to affordable health care.
The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) would like to thank the members of the Senate for supporting retired teachers, and we ask them to remain dedicated to finding ways to keep TRS-Care affordable. We look forward to working with legislators to pass legislation to keep TRS-Care sustainable now and into the future.
The legislative process is complex and fast moving. More details will be forthcoming as we receive them.
Thank you for your membership to TRTA. We are fighting ardently for your benefits every day at the Capitol. If you are not yet a TRTA member, please join here. Be sure to read our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions about TRS-Care here.