20 Most Recent Inside Lines

TRTA Legislative Updates

November 20, 2017
TRTF Making a Difference: Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson’s favorite moments as a teacher come when a student succeeds in an unexpected way. She refers to these as the “little accomplishments,” and she sees them every day. Wilson is a teacher at Georgetown’s Jack Frost Elementary. She works with pre-kindergarten students who have disabilities, and she’s been helping special education students for 15 years.
 
Among the new skills the students learn while working with Wilson is how to move their bodies. Specifically, the students learn how to use their gross motor muscles like their arms and legs.
 
Wilson uses a wide variety of games and toys to teach the students. However, many of these toys can be expensive, and moving them from one place to another can be cumbersome.

November 16, 2017
Governor Names New Trustees to TRS Board

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, Governor Greg Abbott announced the names of the three new trustees who will fill open positions on the Board of Trustees for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS). Governor Abbott has appointed Jarvis V. Hollingsworth, James “Dick” Nance, and Nanette Sissney to the TRS Board of Trustees for terms set to expire August 31, 2023.

November 13, 2017
TRTF Making a Difference: Matt Stricklen

Matt Stricklen has been teaching at Akins High School in Austin, Texas for three years. His newest project is the most ambitious any of his students have undertaken, and it’s an opportunity for the students to learn about the power of ingenuity and collaboration.

Stricklen is teaching his students to build an augmented reality sandbox. The project may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it instead refers to a teaching tool students are using to learn about topography, the study of the shape and features on the surface of the Earth.

November 9, 2017
November 9 Set as TRS-Care Auto Enrollment Date by TRS
According to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), TRS-Care plan participants who do not terminate their TRS-Care coverage by November 9 will be auto-enrolled into the new Humana and SilverScript (CVS) health care plan. November 9 is the cutoff date for the enrollment file TRS will submit to Humana, SilverScript (CVS) and the federal agency known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).
November 6, 2017
Welcome to Foundation Month 2017

The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) is the charitable arm of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA). TRTF is responsible for providing grants and assistance to active and retired educators. November is the month that TRTF hosts its donation drive known as Foundation Month.

November 2, 2017
Interim Charges for Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Released

The next Texas legislative session doesn’t convene until 2019, but the groundwork for future legislative action is already beginning. The Texas Legislature recently released its interim charges for the Texas Senate and House of Representatives. The charges include issues pertaining to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) pension fund and the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program.

October 30, 2017
TRS-Care Communications

Many members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) have contacted us regarding information that appeared in a recent The Inside Line article about opting out of TRS-Care. We have also received many calls about a letter sent out recently by TRS to all Medicare-eligible retirees who currently are not in the TRS-Care Humana Medicare Advantage Level 2 program. The letter is meant as a “guaranteed issue” letter for a participant who needs to purchase a private Medigap supplemental insurance policy. Click here to read an explanation of the letter from the TRS website.

October 20, 2017
TRS-Care Seminars Underway

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) has completed the first two weeks of seminars regarding the new TRS-Care health insurance plans. TRS has added several new meetings to the schedule.  Additional meetings have been added in Austin, the Houston area, Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley, Greenville, Victoria and El Paso. Many members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) have attended these meetings and many will attend the internet webinars. 

To view the meeting schedule, including how to RSVP, please click here. This link also includes presentation materials, videos and handouts that describe the insurance changes. 

October 17, 2017
TRS Accepting RSVPs for Health Care Information Seminars

As the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) reported recently, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) has established a plan for informing plan participants about changes to TRS-Care, including the start and end dates for the much-anticipated in-person retiree seminars that will begin in October.

The original plan was for TRS to have 88 meetings over 40 days, but those plans have since been altered due to Hurricane Harvey. Due to flooding in Houston and the surrounding areas, many event centers are not available for in-person sessions. TRS has added webinars for those unable to attend one of the in-person sessions.

TRS has released the schedule for these seminars, and retirees will have the opportunity to RSVP via telephone starting today, September 11, 2017. Please view the charts below as well for dates and times. TRS released this flyer to inform plan participants about the coming changes to TRS-Care.

October 13, 2017
Aetna Alternative Insurance Plans

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has partnered with Aetna Healthcare to offer TRS-Care participants and spouses alternative health insurance options. To access the alternative options, use the following:

  • Visit the Aetna/TRTA offerings website online at www.healthspire.com/TRTA
  • Call 1.888.299.0919 (TTY: 711) between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday to speak to a health plan expert who can guide you through your choices between the TRS plan or an Aetna plan. Please note, Aetna's call center will be open this weekend. 
  • This offering is available for TRTA members only. If you need to check or update your membership, please call TRTA at 1.800.880.1650.
  • If you decide to opt out of TRS-Care retiree health insurance benefits, you will still need to inform TRS by calling 1.888.237.6762. Press #6 to get to TRS-Care.  
October 4, 2017
TRTA Partners with Aetna to Offer Discounted Health Coverage Products

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program is changing in 2018. You may have many questions about these changes, and it is important that you understand how your health care coverage will be affected.

For the past several months, TRTA has heard from members that the cost of coverage, especially for spouses, may be difficult to afford for some participants in TRS-Care when changes go into effect in January 2018. Many of our members who are Medicare A and B eligible have asked TRTA to search for dependable health care alternatives that can be trusted. 

September 27, 2017
TRTA Remembers Dr. Kenneth Laycock

Dr. Kenneth Laycock served as the Texas Retired Teachers Association’s (TRTA) President from 1998-2000. He was also a founding member and President of the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF). He passed away on Sept. 13, 2017 at the age of 90 after a battle with cancer.

Dr. Laycock was a highly influential and important contributor in TRTA’s history, and his work with and for retirees will not be forgotten. He was a driving force behind the creation of TRTF, and without his efforts, TRTA would likely not have the building in which it currently resides.

September 12, 2017
TRTF Disaster Relief Fund Raises More than $100,000! Hurricane Harvey Grants Now Available

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, TRTA’s charitable partner organization, the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) has been raising funds to provide financial assistance for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

TRTF is pleased to announce that thanks to the overwhelming outpour of generosity from TRTA members, friends and supporters, we have raised more than $120,000 so far!

The TRTF Board of Trustees is so very thankful for your support. As a result of receiving these donations, TRTF has been able to set up a Disaster Relief Fund and already has been disbursing financial assistance to retired and active educators in the affected counties.

September 5, 2017
TRS Board Adopts Legislative Changes to TRS-Care

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees met Friday, September 1, 2017 to approve the new TRS-Care retiree health insurance plans as laid out during the first called Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature. As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) may recall, Governor Greg Abbott added TRS-Care to the special session call this summer after retirees across the state expressed serious concerns about high deductibles and premiums.

August 31, 2017
A Special Message from TRTA and TRTF

A special message from TRTA President Nancy Byler, TRTF President Jamie Larson, and TRTA Executive Director Tim Lee!

ALSO: TRTA is preparing to attend tomorrow’s Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Board of Trustees meeting, and has some valuable information to share with members!

The TRS Board of Trustees Board Meeting Book includes the timeline of events for the rollout of the new TRS-Care plans that go into effect on January 1, 2018. This communications timeline will help plan participants understand how the process will unfold over the next few months. Look to Tab 9 in the book for additional details.

August 30, 2017
TRS Board to Meet Friday, TRTF Receives Thousands in Donations for Hurricane Victims

The TRS Board of Trustees will hold a meeting this Friday, Sept. 1 to discuss implementing the changes made by the Texas Legislature to the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program. It is expected that the Board will approve the changes as recommended by the Legislature.

As our members may recall, as a result of additional funding being provided by the Legislature during the recent summer special session, deductibles and premiums for retirees in the TRS-Care plans will be reduced from the amounts approved during the regular legislative session. You can read about the projected changes by clicking here.

August 28, 2017
Hurricane Harvey Resources for TRTA Members

Members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) are aware of Hurricane Harvey’s shocking and pervasive effects, as the storm ravaged the Texas coast over the weekend and caused significant flooding and damage to inland cities as well.

While we do not have any information on how TRTA have been affected by the storm so far, TRTA wants to remind members of valuable resources and aid that may be available to them. 

August 16, 2017
Texas House Passes $212 Million in Funding for TRS-Care, Sends Bill to Governor

The Texas House and Senate came to an agreement on funding TRS-Care and have passed HB 21. HB 21 will provide $212 million towards TRS-Care, the state-run retiree health insurance program.

The funding will help retirees who are both pre-65 and over-65. Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign this bill into law.

August 15, 2017
Senate Adds TRS-Care Funding to House Bill 21

On Monday, August 14, the Texas Senate met to discuss and vote upon the school finance bill, House Bill 21. As the Senate discussed the bill, several amendments were offered from the floor, including one pertaining to legislation that adds funding for the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program. The Texas House will also continue discussion and voting today (August 15) on Senate Bill 19.

 

August 14, 2017
Senate Bill 19 On House Calendar for August 15

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, there is a limited amount of time left to pass legislation providing more funding for TRS-Care during the first called special session of the 85th Legislature. The special session will end this Wednesday, August 16.