Legislative Updates

85th Legislative Session Comes to an End, Budget Passes

The 85th regular session of the Texas Legislature came to an end on Monday, May 29, 2017. Though Governor Greg Abbott has yet to decide whether or not to call a special session to cover any remaining issues, the state budget (Senate Bill 1) has passed and the fate of the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program has been decided, for now.

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) have been reading throughout the past five months, sweeping structural changes to TRS-Care are about to begin. As of January 2018, the plan as we know it today will change.

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HB 3976 On Its Way to the Governor, TRTA Answers Member Questions

Announcement: HB 3976 received a final vote in the Texas House on Wednesday, May 24. The bill as passed includes the amendments made in the Texas Senate, such as $20 million in prescription coverage for the under 65 age group. HB 3976 is now on its way to the Governor for his signature.

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HB 3976 Passes the Senate, TRTA Facebook Live Event May 23

HB 3976, the TRS-Care reform bill authored by Chairman Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and sponsored by Chairman Joan Huffman (R-Houston), passed the Senate on Sunday, May 22 with a vote of 31-0. As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program is facing a shortfall of more than $1 billion this coming biennium. If no legislation is passed to address the shortfall, TRS-Care will enter a financial “death spiral,” leaving public education retirees in Texas without access to a TRS health benefit.

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Budget Conferees Allocate Approximately $480 Million Towards TRS-Care Shortfall

Tonight, the Texas Legislature's budget conferees adopted a strategy that will allocate approximately $480 million towards TRS-Care. This budget will still need to be approved in both the House and Senate. CSHB 3976, the bill that would prevent TRS-Care from entering "a death spiral," is still awaiting a vote in the Texas Senate. TRTA will keep you updated as these stories continue to develop.

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CSHB 3976 Placed on Senate Intent Calendar, Budget Still Pending

Earlier this week, CSHB 3976, the TRS-Care retiree health insurance reform bill proposed by Chairman Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and Chairman Joan Huffman (R-Houston), passed out of the Senate State Affairs committee. As our members may recall, during the committee meeting on Monday, May 15, Senator Huffman added a committee substitute to the bill calling for additional funding in the amount of $20 million to support some prescription drug coverage for participants under the age of 65.

While the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) has not learned any new information at this time about the prescription benefit, we want to report that the bill continues to move forward in the legislative process.

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HB 3976 Passes Out of the Senate State Affairs Committee, Huffman Proposes $20 Million In Prescription Coverage to Be Added

Today, May 15, 2017, the Senate Committee on State Affairs met to vote on CSHB 3976, the bill designed to prevent the TRS-Care death spiral. Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston), who chairs the State Affairs Committee, is the bill's sponsor.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) published an update about CSHB 3976 this past Friday, May 12, providing members with answers to questions about projected program changes. You may read that update by clicking here.

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More Q&A About TRS-Care Projected Changes

Use TRTA's Action Alert to contact your legislators.

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) continues to field questions about the possible changes that will come with the passage of HB 3976, the TRS-Care bill. On Monday, May 8, TRTA sent out an Inside Line specifically addressing potential changes for participants age 65 and over. You can read that update by clicking here.

Many people have asked how HB 3976 will affect TRS-Care's current health care options, TRS-Care 1, 2 and 3. Those options will no longer be available, and TRS will only have a high-deductible option for pre-65 participants and a Medicare Advantage option for participants age 65 and older. 

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Questions About Medicare Advantage Answered

Many members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) who are age 65 or over have called and emailed asking about the probable changes that will occur with their medical insurance after the legislative session ends. While there are many questions to address regarding all of the tenets of HB 3976, this Inside Line specifically addresses concerns about the TRS Medicare Advantage plan through Humana.

As our members may know, if HB 3976 passes through the legislative process and becomes law, TRS retirees age 65 and over who participate in a TRS-Care insurance plan will be transitioned to the TRS Medicare Advantage plan. This plan will be the only option available. This plan would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

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HB 3976 Passes Out Of Texas House

House Bill 3976 passed out of the Texas House in a 143-0 vote this afternoon (May 3). The bill relates to making dramatic changes to TRS-Care, including providing $633 million towards continuing the state-run retiree health insurance program.

Without HB 3976’s passage, TRS-Care would likely have gone into free-fall. The program was predicted to collapse within two years.

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Texas House Scheduled to Vote on HB 3976

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program currently faces a $1 billion budget shortfall. If nothing is done this session to address it, retirees will carry the full burden of the shortfall. This means staggering premium increases, benefit cuts, or a combination of both.

Without some action this session, retired school employees could see the dissolution of the plan even as soon as the next year or two!

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