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October 29, 2015
Medicare premium dramatically reduced
On Oct. 15, the Social Security Administration announced that there will be no cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security beneficiaries in 2016. When Medicare beneficiaries don’t receive a COLA, a provision known as “hold harmless” protects 70 percent of beneficiaries from higher Medicare Part B premiums. Unfortunately, 30 percent of seniors and persons with disabilities are not protected. These include new Medicare beneficiaries, public sector retirees not receiving Social Security (those in GPO/WEP offset states), higher income beneficiaries, and low-income beneficiaries who have both Medicare and Medicaid.
This news meant that many NEA members were facing a $54 monthly increase to their Part B premiums. NEA used multiple avenues of advocacy and the Medicare Part B premium increase has been dramatically reduced as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
While NEA is pleased to see the looming Medicare Part B premium increase being significantly reduced, they are disappointed that the budget agreement doesn’t extend the “hold harmless” provision to all Social Security beneficiaries. Under the bill, Part B premiums will now increase by $19 per month instead of $54 per month. Many of these beneficiaries live on a fixed income and cannot bear the additional financial burden this increase will cost. These increases are especially unfair to the seniors whose benefits are eliminated or greatly reduced by GPO and WEP.
TAKE ACTION: Please contact your members of Congress today and urge them to sponsor and support S. 2148 and H.R. 3696 to protect all Medicare beneficiaries from higher Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles.
October 25, 2015
Urge Congress to protect seniors from Medicare cost hike
Absent Congressional action, millions of seniors—including educators already unfairly impacted by GPO/WEP Social Security offset penalties—will face a 52 percent increase in Medicare Part B premiums. Most other Social Security beneficiaries will be held harmless from the premium increase. NEA is working with labor and retirement security allies to extend the same financial protection to public servants currently hurt by the GPO/WEP penalties. You can help by urging Congress to support S. 2148 by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and H.R. 3696 by Representative Dina Titus (R-NV), which would extend the hold harmless provision to all Medicare beneficiaries. Take action here: http://capwiz.com/nea/issues/alert/?alertid=68282426
October 23, 2015
10-22-15 TRS Report
On October 22, 2015, the TRS Board of Trustees held a town hall meeting on healthcare, focusing on the ever-rising costs facing school employees and retirees. The Board acknowledged that the paychecks of current employees and annuities of retirees remained relatively stagnant while healthcare costs increased dramatically and became more of a burden than a benefit. Read more: http://tsta.org/sites/default/files/TRS-Town-Hall-Report_0.pdf
October 22, 2015
Teachers reiterate call for state to step up health care support
“Texas teachers are once again calling on the state to increase its share of their growing health care costs, after lawmakers this year failed to pass legislation upping the support,” Houston Chronicle reporter Lauren McGaughy writes.
”’After 14 years, how long must we wait for the state to do its fair share to make sure Texas teachers and public school employees have affordable, high quality health care coverage?’ Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria asked Thursday at a special meeting of the Texas Retirement System Board of Trustees.” http://m.chron.com/news/education/article/Teachers-reiterate-call-for-state-to-step-up-6585151.php
You can watch Noel speak in the archived video at http://trs.mediasite.com/mediasite/Play/23f91d2006004357a0370186b89f02651d; scroll to 7:17:3.
October 22, 2015
TSTA urges TRS to ask Legislature to double state contribution to educator health care
TSTA today urged the Teachers Retirement System of Texas to join educators in asking the Legislature to double the state’s $75 monthly contribution to health insurance costs for school employees to $150. The contribution hasn’t been changed since the program was created in 2001.
“Employee premiums have increased 10 times since 2003 – by as much as 238 percent for some employees – at a time when budget cuts have left Texas teacher pay stagnant, $7,000 below the national average,” TSTA President Noel Candelaria said at a TRS town hall meeting on educator health care.
“Meanwhile, the $75 per month state contribution for school employee health care has not increased – not even by a penny,” he added.
Depending on the level of coverage, Candelaria said, insurance for an entire family can cost some school employees more than $1,300 per month – more than a mortgage payment for most TSTA members. Consequently, many educators are delaying medical treatment, waiting to start a family or leaving the profession.
“After 14 years, how long must we wait for the state to do its fair share to make sure Texas teachers and public school employees have affordable, high quality health care coverage?” Candelaria asked. “Will you, the TRS board, join us in asking the Legislature to double the state contribution for educator health care?”
School districts are required to cover at least $150 per month of each employee’s health insurance premium. Some districts contribute more, but many don’t, saddling employees with most of their rising health care costs.
TSTA believes this also is a fairness issue. The state of Texas covers virtually the entire cost of health care for state employees, while educational employees have seen health care premiums take bigger bites out of their paychecks, year after year.
Watch the meeting at http://trs.mediasite.com/mediasite/Play/23f91d2006004357a0370186b89f02651d and find out how to participate here.
October 21, 2015
TSTA president, other educators to discuss crisis in teacher health care
WHAT: The Teachers Retirement System of Texas will host a town hall discussion of the rising cost of teacher health care and what can be done to address it. Some premiums have increased as much as 238 percent in recent years, sharply reducing the take-home pay of educators already paid almost $7,000 below the national average.
WHO: Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria will call on the Legislature to increase its contribution to school employee insurance premiums and seek the support of the TRS board. Representatives of other educator groups also will participate.
WHERE: Teacher Retirement System of Texas headquarters, 1000 Red River St., 4th floor cafeteria.
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 22, 2:30 p.m.
October 21, 2015
TEA report: school districts implementing House Bill 5
According to an evaluation study released today by the Texas Education Agency, more than half of all school districts responding to a recent survey reported currently offering students all five endorsements – Multidisciplinary Studies; Business and Industry; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Arts and Humanities; Public Services – created under House Bill 5 (HB 5).
Passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature in 2013, HB 5 initiated substantial changes to the curriculum requirements for high school graduation in Texas. The legislation replaced the existing graduation programs with the Foundation High School Program and included the option for students to earn endorsements, a distinguished level of achievement, and performance acknowledgements within the new program.
October 20, 2015
Health care town hall: how to participate in the interactive Q&A sessions
During the Teacher Retirement System's town hall meeting Thursday, there will be two interactive Q&A sessions, one on the health care environment and cost trends, and the other specific to TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare. How can you participate?
If you attend the Austin meeting, you can submit questions on the cards provided or use Facebook or Twitter.
Webcast audience members can submit questions through:
- the internet link on the webcast homepage.
- Twitter at @trsoftexas. For TRS-Care questions, use #trscare. For TRS-ActiveCare questions, use #trsactivecare. For all other questions, use #trstownhall.
- Facebook by commenting directly to the TRS Health Care Town Hall post.
TRS will publish FAQs on the TRS website to address questions not answered during the Q&A. Please do not submit questions regarding personal health situations, as those cannot be discussed in this forum.
Read more here http://tsta.org/sites/default/files/TRS-Town-Hall-Q%26A.pdf.