TRS Discusses Health Insurance Premiums for Active, Retired Educators at Quarterly Meeting

Texas AFT Retiree Pamela Davis-Duck provides public testimony to the TRS Board of Trustees. Watch her testimony, along with that of Texas AFT Retiree Phyllis Ruffin, here (about 10 minutes in).

Last week, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) board convened for its quarterly board meeting. At the meeting, the board approved higher TRS-ActiveCare rates for next school year and discussed the development of a plan to reduce TRS-Care rates for retirees with Medicare advantage.

Texas AFT Retirees Phyllis Ruffin and Pamela Davis-Duck attended the meeting and provided public testimony. Ruffin, who received only a $14 per month pension increase from last year’s TRS COLA, stated that more needs to be done to support retired educators. Davis-Duck, a 2021 retiree who did not qualify to receive a pension increase, stated that the legislature must act to support all retirees who retired in 2020 or later. These retirees have experienced double-digit inflation since they retired, but they were cut off from last year’s COLA, which was only provided to TRS members who retired before August 31, 2020.

As a result of legislation passed in 2021, rates for TRS-ActiveCare are set based on regional Education Service Centers (ESC) to better reflect the local cost of health care. As a result, premium increases are not uniform across the board, but TRS assures that premium increases will be less than10% for most participants. Despite these increases, TRS stated that ActiveCare premiums are lower than most comparable plans.

TRS-ActiveCare premiums did not increase between the 2019-2020 school year and the 2022-2023 school year due to supplemental legislative appropriations in response to increasing health care costs during the pandemic. The system was projected to see a 17% across-the-board premium this year, but the state appropriated $588 million last year to TRS-ActiveCare to reduce premium increases.

In response to savings caused by the streamlining of the Biden Administration’s Medicare advantage system, legislative leaders including Speaker of the House Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick instructed TRS to develop a plan to decrease premiums for TRS-Care retirees who are enrolled in the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage plan. To allow more retirees to take advantage of this pending premium reduction, the board also approved rulemaking authority to allow for a limited open enrollment period over the summer for retirees who previously left the TRS-Care plan, many due to premium increases. More details of this plan will be released at the TRS board meeting in July.

Texas AFT first reported these pending actions in the Hotline last month.

Additionally, as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 1854 last session, the TRS Board of Trustees awarded the TRS-Care Dental and TRS-Care Vision contracts to MetLife. TRS released information about these new plans on its website.

The TRS-Care fund and the TRS-ActiveCare fund are both managed by the TRS Board of Trustees, but they are entirely separate funds. Resources for each fund can only be used for the designated system.

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