TSTA Recommends TRS ActiveCare Opt Out Provision

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Guthrie also said that the legislature would have to change the law to allow districts to opt out of ActiveCare, which TSTA supports.

February 17, 2015

TSTA also is seeking increased state funding for school employees, whether they are insured by TRS-ActiveCare or an insurance carrier under contract with a local school district.

➢ The state hasn’t increased its $75 monthly contribution since ActiveCare was created in 2002. Meanwhile, employee health care premiums have soared, effectively imposing take-home pay cuts on many teachers and ESPs.

➢ There is a significant difference in funding levels between TRS and ERS, and TSTA believes school employees deserve to be treated as least as well as state employees.

➢ Brian Guthrie, the TRS executive director, told the Senate Finance Committee that ActiveCare’s rate might be more reasonable if the TRS could offer regional rates, and he asked for legislative authority for the TRS board to consider regional rates.

➢ Guthrie also said that the legislature would have to change the law to allow districts to opt out of ActiveCare, which TSTA supports.

Retiree health insurance Both House and Senate budget proposals include $562 million to provide a required state contribution to TRS-Care of 1 percent of public education payroll.

➢ TRS has requested an additional $768 million for TRS-Care to make the plan solvent for the next two years and ensure that retirees won’t have to shoulder increasing health care costs on tight, fixed incomes.

➢ TSTA will aggressively support this request. In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee this week, TRS Executive Director Brian Guthrie made it clear that a long-term solution is required if TRS-Care is to continue as an option for retirees.

TSTA testimony on TRS-Care and ActiveCare

“TSTA understands there are systemic funding problems with ActiveCare and TRS Care. We would like to share with you the problems being faced every day by active teachers and retirees.

“Several of our members have shared stories about the ways healthcare costs affect them. Many teachers are delaying necessary surgeries because they cannot cover the medical costs. Some teachers are delaying having children because of the costs associated with the birth of a child. And we have numerous members who are considering leaving the profession altogether. Indeed, many have left the profession over rising health care costs.

“Currently, a teacher seeking to cover his or her entire family under ActiveCare 2 must pay a monthly premium of over $1,300 per month – more than most of our members pay for their mortgage – if they can even save enough to buy their own home.

“On a monthly basis, many retirees have to choose between paying their electric bill or having insurance that allows them to purchase prescription drugs that are vital to their well-being. Can you imagine a more excruciating, life-threatening dilemma for an elderly teacher who has given his or her entire life to serve the schoolchildren of the State of Texas?

“Although numbers play a big role in this discussion, it always does us well to remember the people who are ultimately affected by those numbers. These are real people who desperately need your help.

“TSTA supports TRS’ exceptional item request in the amount of almost $770 million to make Care solvent over the next biennium. TSTA also believes we need to come up with long-term solutions to both ActiveCare and Care this session, including greatly increasing the state contribution to ActiveCare and Care.

“We look forward to working with this committee to find reasonable solutions.”

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