TRS RAC and TRS Board Meetings Offer Insight and Opportunity for Feedback

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) will host its TRS-Care Retiree Advisory Committee (RAC) today (February 3). This group of retired and active school employees receives information about the condition of the TRS-Care plan and provides feedback to TRS about member sentiment and involvement.

Today’s TRS RAC meeting is the first step in a long progression of actions that will lead up to the next legislative session. The importance of TRS-Care in the next legislative session cannot be understated.

TRTA will be in attendance for this important meeting and will provide feedback to our members. We expect to hear updates about the condition of the TRS-Care plan, as well as information from TRS staff about how the TRS Board will respond to retiree input over the coming months.

One of the first opportunities for public feedback on the impending TRS-Care funding crisis will be at next week’s TRS Board of Trustees meeting.

TRS Board Retreat Set for Next Week

Next week’s meeting of the Board of Trustees for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) will take place in Corpus Christi February 12-14. TRTA staff and board officers will be in attendance. The meeting will be broadcast live via webcast and TRTA will provide a link on its Facebook page.

The meeting will include a Town Hall event on February 12 during which the TRS Board will invite comments, questions and suggestions from those in attendance and those who send emails about the TRS-Care health insurance program.

Members, please be aware that this discussion is one of vital importance. If you are a TRS retiree or you will be, and you participate or plan to participate in this retiree health insurance program, we need your help.

The health care plan will have a serious funding shortfall in the coming legislative session, to the tune of $1 billion! We know the crisis is coming. We have 2014 to rally every TRS retiree and future retiree together to help maintain this vital health care coverage.

The TRS Board meeting presents a chance for our voices to be heard as the board considers various options for maintaining the plan. This sustainability study will provide the Texas Legislature with feedback that will impact how your insurance plan will change in the near future.

In November, we learned from TRS that TRS-Care will need reform, possibly in the form of increased revenues, increased retiree premiums, benefit reductions, or a combination of factors. Right now, retiree premiums account for 34.2% of the cost of TRS-Care. Contributions from the state account for 23.2%.

Many of our members ask why TRS-Care is experiencing significant financial issues. Although the new Aetna Medicare Advantage plan introduced in 2013 created some cost savings for TRS-Care, it has not been enough to overcome the cost drivers of the plan. The most significant cost driver of TRS-Care is the non-Medicare eligible category of participants. The cost for those participants is about 12 times as much as Medicare participants. Other drivers include increased prescription and medical costs, as well as increased utilization of the plans due to aging population.

The Medicare Advantage plan has about 70% of those eligible to participate using the plan, which is about 80,000 people. Participation in the Medicare Part D prescription plan is at about 83%.

What can you do to help?

You can help TRTA by emailing us your questions, concerns and suggestions about TRS-Care. Send an email to info@trta.org with the subject line “TRS-Care” and give us your feedback! As we mentioned above, TRS will review ALL options when conducting their study: increased revenues, increased retiree premiums, benefit reductions, or a combination of factors. Let us know what avenues you think TRS should pursue and why, and what avenues you as a plan participant are able or not able to follow and why.

Don’t forget to watch the TRS Board meeting live online next week! TRTA will provide a link to the live broadcast from its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/TRTA-Texas-Retired-Teachers-Association/126989714019649). If you do not follow our Facebook page already, please do so! TRTA provides frequent updates about issues pertaining to your retirement benefits as well as information about other pension plans across the nation.

Thank you for being a member of TRTA. If you are not a member and are interested in becoming one, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.