Get it done! TRS retirees need health-care cost relief NOW

The Texas House and Texas Senate both have passed competing bills providing $212 million to cut rising health-care costs they recently imposed on retired school employees. The House passed HB 20 and the Senate passed an equivalent provision as  part of SB 19 in direct response to grass-roots pressure from retired and active school employees. However, with just a week to go in the current special session, these bills need to be reconciled so retirees actually get the help they deserve instead of just a show of good intentions that come to nothing.

Please send your e-letter now to your state representative and state senator with a blunt message:  Get it done!

Retired teachers and other school employees got the job done all their lives for the schoolchildren of Texas. It’s the Legislature’s job to get it done now for these dedicated public servants.

Here’s a preview of the e-letter you can mail online via the Texas AFT legislative-action website:

I urge you to take immediate action to cut rising health-care costs that the Legislature imposed in the recent regular session on retired school employees participating in the TRS-Care health plan. This health plan has never been provided with secure funding flows by the Legislature, but lawmakers always have come through with sufficient funding to protect retirees from extreme cost increases–until now.

Unless the Legislature acts before the current special session is over on August 16, TRS-Care participants face extreme cost increases starting in January 2018. Those under age 65 would have a $3,000 deductible and high premiums for limited coverage; most of those 65 and over (and therefore Medicare-eligible) would have to pay higher premiums. For many, the rising costs will eat up most of their pensions, and for some the costs will be literally unaffordable for themselves, their spouses, and adult disabled children.

The House and Senate urgently need to reconcile their competing bills (HB 20 and SB 19) to deliver $212 million in cost reductions for TRS-Care retirees. If you do, those under 65 will have a more affordable $1,500 deductible, and participants will benefit from reduced premium increases. This stopgap relief at least will buy some breathing room for retirees until lawmakers come up with a longer-term plan for coping with the rising health-care costs besetting both retired and active school employees.

My bottom-line request to you as a Texas lawmaker is simple:  Get it done! Please let me know you will do all in your power to provide this vital relief to retired school employees participating in TRS-Care.