As early as Tuesday the Senate may vote on SB 788, the bill by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) that cuts benefits and raises costs for TRS-Care recipients who are not yet eligible for Medicare. While Medicare-eligible retirees may face higher costs, too, they at least would be assured under the bill of a decent level of coverage under a Medicare Advantage plan. Not so the retirees who have yet to reach age 65 and thus do not yet qualify for Medicare. Best estimates are that this bill would mean the under-65s would be offered a high-premium, high-deductible plan, making coverage simply unaffordable for many ($4,000 deductible, $7,000-plus “maximum” out of pocket, but a substantial portion of costs above the “maximum” would still be the retirees’ responsibility).
SB 788 is a bill that shrinks benefits for retirees to fit the inadequate sum of money the Senate proposes to spend, rather than mustering the resources needed to meet retirees’ needs. Amendments may be offered in the Senate to address those needs; a better deal may be achieved in the House, where the budget bill passed last week provides significantly more funding for TRS-Care than the Senate version.