State Leaders Announce Adding Pandemic Grant Money To TRS Health Insurance Fund, Four Months After College Station ISD And Other School Districts Switch Providers – WTAW

Screen shot from College Station ISD document.

State officials have announced moving $435 million dollars of federal pandemic relief money into the teacher retirement system’s (TRS) health insurance program.

The governor stated in a news release that TRS healthcare premiums will either stay the same or go down.

This comes after College Station ISD and more than 100 other school districts dropped TRS as their health insurance provider last December.

At the April 19 CSISD school board meeting, approval was given to enter final negotiations with a health insurance plan administered by the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Municipal League, where claims will be processed by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

CSISD chief administrative officer Molley Perry told the board that this year’s TRS average rate increase was eight percent.

Board members also heard about TRS administrative issues from their consultant, Bob Tracy.

Click HERE to read and download presentation materials from the April 19, 2022 College Station ISD board meeting.

Click below to hear comments from the April 19, 2022 College Station ISD board meeting.

News release from College Station ISD:

2022-23 Employee Health Plans: Chief Administrative Officer Molley Perry gave an update on the district’s plan to leave TRS-ActiveCare health insurance and select a new provider in the open market for the 2022-23 health plan year.

In August, 2021, the board chartered a committee to evaluate new options and in December 2021, the board voted to leave the TRS-ActiveCare pool following the committee’s recommendation and additional research supporting that leaving TRS ActiveCare would benefit CSISD employees.

CSISD engaged with Gallagher Consulting to assist with the process of a Request for Proposal for a new healthcare insurance provider. The TASB Health Plan rated highest overall in the RFP process. New healthcare plans available to employees next year will include four options and be comparable in benefits and in premium rates to this year’s TRS-Active Care plans.

The TRS-ActiveCare plans have sharply increased each of the last few years, including an eight percent average increase last year.

During the regular meeting, the board authorized the superintendent to engage in final negotiations with the TASB Benefits Cooperative and the Texas Municipal League for employee health plans beginning in the 2022-23 plan year.

Beginning in May, CSISD will communicate finalized 2022-23 rates, plans and employer contributions to its employees. These new plans will be effective on September 1, 2022.

News release from Governor Abbott’s office:

Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Senate Finance Committee Chair Joan Huffman, and House Appropriations Chair Dr. Greg Bonnen today announced the allocation of $435 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to the Teacher Retirement System of Texas ( TRS) to offset healthcare costs related to COVID-19. This funding, combined with previous legislative appropriations during the third special session, will be applied to the TRS-ActiveCare healthcare plan to offset insurance premium increases. By providing these funds, teachers will now see an average 0% increase–or even decrease–on healthcare premiums.

“Our teachers are fundamental in building brighter futures for the next generation of Texans, and it is imperative that they have access to healthcare so they can continue developing our state’s most valuable asset: our kids,” said Governor Abbott. “Thank you to my partners in the legislature for helping allocate this excess funding that will be used to offset rising healthcare premiums associated with COVID-19 and continue giving our teachers access to quality, affordable healthcare.”

“I am happy to support this initiative so healthcare premiums for our active teachers do not increase,” said Lieutenant Governor Patrick. “Other than a parent, no person is more important to the development of a child than a teacher, and I will continue to stand with Texas teachers for that reason.”

“Texas teachers play one of the most vital roles to our kids and shouldn’t have to bear the burden of rising healthcare costs associated with COVID-19,” said Speaker Phelan. “Without this allocation, teachers in my district would have seen some of the largest increases to health care premiums in the state. Today’s announcement is welcome news for House District 21 and the rest of Texas.”

“With rising health-care costs and inflation soaring to a 40-year high, I am thrilled that we are able to allocate additional federal COVID-19 funding to TRS-ActiveCare to prevent health-care premiums from increasing,” said Senator Huffman, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

“Continuing with efforts made by the Legislature to provide necessary support to our teachers, this investment will maintain healthcare premiums for the active teacher workforce,” said Dr. Bonnen, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “Given the rising cost of health care and current inflationary environment, it is imperative that the State utilize all available resources to ensure costs to our hard working teachers stay as low as possible.”

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