TRS Board Meets, Receives Testimony From TRTA

Executive Summary:

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met February 16 and 17. This meeting served primarily to provide ethics and fiduciary training for the trustees, as well as to receive presentations from potential vendors.

Marcy Cann, the Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) State President, provided public comment during the meeting.

“We want everybody to understand we all have a role in this legislative session for retirees to be successful,” Cann said. “TRS and the trustees and its employees have a job to educate our legislators.” Cann said that TRTA “has a job to advocate.”

“If we come together, retired Texas public school employees will have success.” She reiterated the importance of both organizations working together as much as possible.

Craig Campbell of the Austin RTA local TRTA chapter, discussed concerns about the TRS testimony provided at the February 6 Senate Finance Committee hearing, saying the testimony “ignored the financial benefits of pension and health care payments (to the state)” received by TRS retirees. He mentioned that these benefits are well documented in the TRS Great Value for All Texans brochure.

Campbell recommended to the Board that TRS conduct a cost-benefit analysis of providing a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to TRS retirees. He said that retirees “need a graduated COLA to try to bring people up” to meet current inflation costs.

Board Selects Express Scripts as Pharmacy Benefit Manager

The TRS Board of Trustees voted on a new vendor for its pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) that services the retiree health plans. For all contracts, the board voted for Express Scripts to be the primary vendor. If TRS is unable to negotiate a contract with Express Scripts, the secondary PBM is CVS Caremark. The new contracts will begin at the start 2024. In TRS-Care Standard and TRS-Care Medicare Advantage, the plan year aligns with the calendar year and in TRS-ActiveCare the plan year aligns with the state’s fiscal year.

More information will come once contracts are officially negotiated. TRS-Care Standard for TRS retirees under age 65 currently covers 62,000 participants, while TRS-Care Medicare Advantage covers 158,000 participants.

PBMs provide pharmacy benefit administrative services to self-insured programs like TRS-Care. These services include contracting with a network of pharmacies, operating mail-order and specialty pharmacies, negotiating rebates and discounts from drug manufacturers, managing formularies, preferred drug lists, and utilization management programs, processing prescription drug claims, and maintaining patient compliance programs.

Board Welcomes New Trustees

TRS welcomed two newly appointed trustees to the Board, Brittny Allred and Elvis Williams. Brittny Allred of Dallas is a principal of Luther King Capital Management, an investment advisory firm. She was appointed by the Governor from nominations submitted by the State Board of Education. Elvis Williams of Fair Oaks Ranch currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Operations at Edgewood ISD, where he leads the Operations Division. He was appointed by the Governor from public school district member candidates nominated by public school employees.

John Elliott, a partner in the Austin law firm Elliott Stratmann, PLLC, is returning as a trustee. Elliott is directly appointed by the Governor to serve upon the TRS Board. The Board also re-elected Nanette Sissney of Whitesboro to serve as Vice-Chair. You can read more about all of the trustees serving on the TRS Board by clicking here.

Tim Lee Discusses Retiree Benefit Enhancements on Facebook and YouTube

Tim Lee, TRTA’s Executive Director, walked audiences through the differences between a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), a supplemental payment, and a 13th check on his live event. The replay of the discussion is available here. Lee said TRTA is continuing its push to communicate the need for retirees to receive a COLA this session.

Tim Lee will be live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday, February 23. Details will be provided next week.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III will hear testimony from TRS on Monday, February 27 at 9:00 a.m. in Room E1.026 of the Texas Capitol. A live broadcast of the hearing will be available from this link on the morning of February 27.

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