Report Warns of Financial Catastrophe for State Health Plans


Without action, TRS-Care will eventually fail altogether……..Is Reference Based Pricing the Solution or will Texas continue to drink managed care cool aid?……………..or  follow Montana’s example? Montana Adopts Reference Based Pricing Strategies

Part of the 200 page report from the Joint Interim Committee To Study Health Benefit Plans – Report To The 85th Legislature, November 7, 2016:

Thank you for your tremendous leadership on the Joint Committee to study TRS Health Benefit Plans. With an estimated shortfall of over one billion dollars for retired teacher health care, and thousands of Texans affected by these plans, the future of TRS-Care and TRS-Active Care is easily one of the most important issues facing the upcoming 85th Legislative Session.

It was my honor to serve on the Committee and to be included in such a meaningful discussion, but I would like to leave our active and retired teachers with a few additional thoughts regarding the report at hand. First, it is important to recognize that the Committee’s report is simply a starting point for the conversation when the Legislature convenes in January 2017.

As we continue the discussion with the full body in both the Senate and House Chambers, this report will help provide context for the short and long term consequences of each option. Though the report contains options I do not support, I look forward to the responses of active and retired teachers who have opinions on how we can best provide stable footing for the programs in perpetuity. Secondly, the $1.3 billion problem for this biennium will become a $4-6 billion dollar problem in the next legislative session if nothing is done.

The trends we see here are due to the rising cost of health care, which show no signs of reversing themselves, and underscore the importance of making significant changes for the long term benefit of TRS-Care and TRS-Active Care. This means that tough decisions will have to be made, and I stand ready to support teachers across our state who deserve reliable healthcare for the service they provide to Texas students.

Finally, if we move forward without making any changes, the result could be catastrophic. Without action, TRS-Care will eventually fail altogether.

Knowing that changes are inevitable, and that more money must be provided to the system, it is my desire that we move forward with a mindset that seeks to minimize the impact our decision will have on both active and retired teachers.

In the coming months, I expect a robust discussion with not only my colleagues in the Legislature, but also our educators and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, about the most prudent path ahead. I trust that we can come together to resolve the predicament we face, and I look forward to being a voice for teachers, not only in my district, but across the State of Texas.

Trent Ashby State Representative

Editor’s Note: For a complete copy of the 200 page report write to