Welcome!

 

 

to the home site for

LONGVIEW GREGG COUNTY RETIRED TEACHERS

 

  from your president.......

Welcome:

I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join the Longview/ Gregg County Unit of Retired Teachers Association. TRTA is the largest organization of public education retirees in the nation. They are fighting hard for you with the legislature to protect and improve our benefits. The next legislative session will be very important in protecting our insurance program and our pension plans. This is a good opportunity to be involved locally and support the state organization.

We are better together on the issues.  We want to be heard, seen, and respected.

 

 

George Kale

President LGC RTA 2016-2017

                                                                                    

NEWS....NEWS....NEWS....NEWS....NEWS....NEWS....NEWS.... 
from Tim Lee....NEWS....NEWS....NEWS....NEWS....NEWS....NEWS

FOR YOUR CALENDAR:

Meet YOU in Longview July 12th!

East Texas teachers take aim at legislators

By Meredith Shamburger 
July 8, 2017 at 4 a.m.

East Texas teachers and school officials are bracing for the Texas Legislature's upcoming special session — and preparing to make their voices heard on a number of education issues Wednesday at a rally on the Gregg County Courthouse lawn.

The goal, organizers say, is to let legislators know teachers and other school employees are fed up with rising health care costs, jeopardized pension plans, decreases in school funding and a push for vouchers.

"I think it feels as if this past session, education and educators were targeted," rally organizer Suzanne Bardwell said. "That appears to be what may be coming back up again in the special session."

Teachers and other public school supporters throughout East Texas are expected to gather at 10 a.m. Wednesday outside the courthouse, with organizers asking attendees to wear red. Guest speakers will include Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt and Tim Lee, director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association.

Longview ISD Superintendent James Wilcox and White Oak ISD Superintendent Mike Gilbert also plan to speak briefly, Bardwell said.

Bardwell taught for more than 30 years before she retired from public education and now co-owns The Gladewater Mirror with her husband. The idea for a local teachers' rally came after a similar event was held in Nacogdoches earlier this summer, and those participating hope they can reach the ears of their local representatives who are about to go back to Austin for the special session.

Wednesday's rally is expected to draw local educators, but at least one major statewide protest is planned in Austin ahead of the special session's July 18 start date. Texans for Public Education are planning a rally at 1:30 p.m. July 17 on the statehouse steps, with statewide associations and advocates expected to speak.

Gov. Gregg Abbott has listed several education-related items on his special session agenda, including a teacher pay raise bill that local school officials have noted doesn't appear to come with increased state funding. Abbott has appointed state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, to write that bill and said it would help schools attract and retain high-quality teachers.

State Sen. Larry Taylor and state Rep. Phil King have been appointed by Abbott to write legislation that would create a school finance commission, and Taylor and state Rep. Ron Simmons have been tasked to write a bill providing vouchers for special needs students.

State Sen. Bryan Hughes and state Rep. Jason Isaac have been appointed by Abbott to author a bill that would keep schools and other state and local governments from deducting union dues from public employees' paychecks.

Locally, Wednesday's rally calls for teachers to use their voices and speak up against proposed measures, such as the voucher bill and a teacher raise that would fall on already-strapped school districts to fund.

"The goal of the rally, obviously, is to put out on the table the biggest issues facing education," Bardwell said. "And that, in particular, the Senate has not come through in supporting education or even understanding education."

Two of the biggest issues concerning teachers, active and retired, are health care and pensions.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas serves more than 1.5 million educators and provides health care benefits and pensions to those who have worked in public education. Teachers pay into the system throughout their careers.

Bardwell noted retired teachers haven't received a cost-of-living increase in 16 years, and retirees who have earned Social Security in addition to their teacher pensions can't draw on it without severe penalties.

High monthly health care premiums and deductibles also are an issue for teachers, Bardwell said. Active teachers may be paying so much for health care that they can't make a livable wage — and retired teachers can see health care costs taking up to half of their pensions, Bardwell said.

"These benefits are earned," she said. "We're not asking for something that we were not promised and that we didn't work for and that we didn't pay into. We have paid into this system and blithely gone into the classroom and taught our hearts out, and then came out of the classroom thinking 'OK, now we can start a business, volunteer at the school.' Well we can't; we're having to find other jobs, other paying jobs."

Bardwell hopes the rally will resonate with area lawmakers ahead of the special session.

"The most important thing is to make our legislators aware that we are determined," she said. "When you look at the fact that one in 20 Texans is a member of (the Texas Retirement System), that's a heck of a lot of votes. Teachers have reached the end of their rope. Public school employees have reached the end of their rope."

 

To view a Youtube video of the rally, click on the link below:          

   https://youtu.be/T3bc7xhpfNg

 

TRS Board Meets, Enacts TRS-Care Changes From HB 3976

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees held meetings on June 1 and 2. The TRS Board of Trustees finalized changes to TRS-Care’s benefit structure during the meetings as recommended by the Texas Legislature.
 
TRS-Care, the health insurance program provided by Texas to more than 256,000 retired teachers, underwent significant funding and structural changes during the 85th Legislative Session.
 
TRS presented this slideshow presentation during its adoption of the TRS-Care changes.
 
The Board of Trustees adopted the following changes, which will begin Jan. 1, 2018:

Pre-65 Retirees


Pre-65 retirees will be in a high-deductible health care plan. The deductible to reach for an individual using an in-network provider is $3,000. The plan has a $7,150 Maximum Out-of-Pocket cost (MOOP). More information about the deductible for spouses and families is listed here.
 
Once the deductible is reached for in-network coverage, the insurance will cover 80 percent of the retiree’s expenses.
 
The premium for pre-65 individual retirees is $200 per month. For a retiree with a spouse, the premiums are $739 per month. For a retiree with a child, the premiums are $433 per month. For a retiree with a family, the premiums are $1,074 per month.
 

Over-65 Retirees

 
If you are age 65 or older and you decide to leave TRS-Care, you will not be able to rejoin. Carefully consider and research your health care options before making any decisions about your health care plan.
 
Retirees who are age 65 and older will be participating in the Medicare Advantage plan. (The TRS-Care tiers 1, 2 and 3 will no longer exist.) The deductible for Medicare Advantage retirees will be $500. The plan has a $3,500 Maximum Out-of Pocket cost.
 
Once the deductible is reached, the insurance will cover 95 percent of the retiree’s expenses.
 
There are other benefits to this plan, which are outlined on this slide.
 
The premiums for individual retirees age 65 and older are $146 per month. For a retiree with a spouse, the premiums are $590 per month. For a retiree with a child, the premiums are $504 per month. For a retiree with a family, the premiums are $1,106 per month.
 

Pharmacy Benefit Provider Change

 
The TRS Board of Trustees voted to change from Express Scripts as the provider of pharmacy benefits to TRS-Care programs. The new pharmacy benefit provider is CVS Caremark. This change will be effective Sept. 1, 2017 (unlike the health care plans, which begin Jan. 1, 2018).
 

Providers Who Do Not Accept Medicare Advantage

 
Many retirees have expressed concern that some doctors do not accept Medicare Advantage. TRS says that Humana, the Medicare Advantage provider, will pay doctors even if they are not in-network. If your doctor’s office says they do not accept Medicare Advantage, you have two options: 1) bring this document to the doctor’s office, which explains that they will receive payment. 2) have TRS or Humana contact the doctor’s office to explain that they will receive payment.
 

General Maintenance Drug Coverage

 
The Texas Legislature allocated $20 million for pre-65 retirees to have coverage on general maintenance drugs. TRS has not yet outlined which drugs will be included in this coverage. TRS must first work with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to develop this list.
 

Why the Changes Occurred

 
Fueled by a $1 billion budget shortfall, the Texas Legislature passed HB 3976. HB 3976 made sweeping changes to TRS-Care. Among those changes are the elimination of the coverage tiers called TRS-Care 1, 2 and 3. Instead, pre-65 retirees will be offered a high-deductible health care plan, and retirees age 65 and over will be combined into the Medicare Advantage program. You can learn the full details about the changes from HB 3976 here.
 
While HB 3976 has not yet been signed into law, (Gov. Greg Abbot has until June 18 to sign this bill) it is very unlikely the bill will be vetoed.
 
On June 2, Tim Lee, the Executive Director of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA), provided public comment to the TRS Board. He described a litany of issues presented to TRTA about the pending TRS-Care changes through both individual conversations and social media interactions. In particular, Lee raised points made by retirees via TRTA’s Facebook Live events. You can watch TRTA’s past Facebook Live broadcasts here.
 
Lee voiced that retirees desired to have Humana increase its hours of operation to answer retiree questions during nights and weekends. TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie said that this request would “not be a problem.”
 
Additionally, Lee discussed the need for TRS to provide additional information about the planned regional meetings where the organization will discuss the TRS-Care changes with retirees. Lee raised the point that “not every (retiree) is going to know what’s going on (with these changes).”
 
TRS is planning approximately 80 meetings across the state with Humana. TRTA will alert its members when these meetings will occur.
 
The Board of Trustees President, David Kelly, agreed with Lee’s sentiment that while they had hoped the Legislature would provide more funding for TRS-Care, the funding that was provided was the highest amount that the Legislature could agree on.
 
Senate Bill 1, the Texas funding bill, allocated $484 million for TRS-Care.
 
Trustee Dr. Greg Gibson expressed his dismay at the impending TRS-Care changes. Gibson, who works as the superintendent of Schertz-Cibolo-University City ISD, said that the changes to TRS-Care would make it harder to recruit and retain talented teachers.
 
“They worry about their health care and their retirement,” Gibson said. “We’re coming up with the best bad idea that we can.”
 
Kelly agreed that he too had hoped for a better resolution from the legislative session, and he expressed his concern that approving these changes would create future problems for retirees.
 
“There are some aspects of this role that stink,” Kelly said. “This is something that I do not look forward to doing.”
 
TRTA agrees with Chairman Kelly’s comments that while the situation is not the best that many had hoped for, it was the best deal that could be reached. Until the federal government implements cost controls, it will be difficult to fix the chronic underfunding of TRS-Care.
 
TRTA believes that the federal government must take action on cost control and that the state must have a more realistic view on funding TRS-Care. While TRS is making the necessary changes as set forth by the Legislature, TRTA knows your health care is a vital part of your retirement security. The changes made this session saved TRS-Care from imminent collapse, but TRTA’s work is not done. Our goal is to be your voice in policy discussions about health care cost containment.
 
Please support us in these efforts. We cannot accomplish these goals without your membership.
 

Thank You

 
Thank you for your membership to TRTA. Now is the time to spread the word about the impending TRS-Care changes with your fellow educators, both active and retired. Many retirees, particularly ones who are not members of TRTA, will be caught completely unaware by these changes.
 
These retirees should be informed that these changes are going to begin on Jan. 1, 2018, and if they want to see a better outcome for their health care in the future, they need to get involved with TRTA and plan on voting in the 2018 elections.

 

 

 

Important Dates 2017- 2018

 

Date Event Location
June 1, 2017 Executive Committee Meets The Butcher Shop
     
------------------                 DATES 2016 -2017 ------------

June 10th

2 P.M.

LGC Executive Board Meeting

Nancy Humphrey's House

     

July 27th

LGC Executive Board Meeting

Tyler Str Bistro

July 22

10 A.M.

District 8  Budget Planning Committee 

Region 8

Magnolia Rm

August 23rd

LGC Executive Board Meeting

Website pictures of officers and Chair will be made.

Tyler St Bistro

August 18

    9 A.M.

District 8 Executive Board Meeting

Local Unit Presidents Meet

Region 8

Magnolia Rm

September 6t h   i      11:30  A.M.

LGC First Local Meeting of Year

Meet Monthly, first Tuesday

Tyler Street Bistro

September &

       October

Book Project $$$ collected

October 4th

    11:30 AM

Local Unit Monthly Meeting Tyler Street Bistro

October 13th

8:30 A.M. Reg

9 A.M.  Program

District 8 Fall Conference

Region 8

Conference Rm

 

November 1st

11:30 AM

Local Unit Monthly Meeting Tyler St Bistro
November Foundation Month $$$ collectedNov
November        ELECTION DAY VOTE!!!
     

December 6th

11:30 AM

local Unit Monthly Meeting Tyler St Bistro

January 3rd

11:30AM

Local Unit Monthly Meeting Tyler Str

February 7th

11:00 AM

Local Unit Monthly Meeting Tyler Str Bistro
February 14th HAPPY VALENTINE DAY! Region 8
     
February 15th Forms Due to local chair.  Best to bring  with you to the February meeting.

Volunteer Services, Book Project, Health, Retirement Ed
 forms due

February  Last day to report membership dues for 2015-2016  
     

TBA

 

EXECUTIVE Committee meets

 Region 8

 

March7th Local Unit Monthly Meeting Tyler Str Bistro
March 15th Delegates due Names of delegates to State Conference due***
     

March

 A.M.

Executive Committee Meets Region 8 ESC
March  Room Reservations for State Extra rooms reserved must be canceled or TTA will have to pay
     

March 27 -29

 

STATE CONVENTION

HILTON Hotel

Austin, TX
April 4th Local Unit Monthly Meeting Tyler Str Bistro
April 25th Send registration form for members who will attend the Spring Leadership Training for District Presidents  
May 1 Data Collection Form due Names of new officers
May 2nd Local Unit Monthly Meeting Tyler St Bistro
May 6th ELECTION DAY Municipal & School Offices

May 4th
*Date changed from May 18th

8:30   Register

9:30

SPRING LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE

First United Methodist Church,       

Longview, TX

 


***Link  to state convention info:  
http://localunits.org/District8/index.cfm/dateline-austin/state-convention/

 

 

                      

Please visit our local Longview Gregg County Retired Teachers Facebook page 

and be  sure to give us a THUMBS UP!

 https://www.facebook.com/loveforteaching/ 

 

 

Thank you, Charolette Jackson, for all your wonderful pictures found on these pages

AND

For your management of our local unit's FB page.  You are wonderful!

 

To the two people without whose HELP this website would not have happened!

Andy Peterson, TRTA Webmaster

and

Barbara Temple Walton

   
 

 

 

Click to link to the official TRTA FB site:



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