State Capital HIGHLIGHTS

By Ed Sterling


Future of TRS health care hinges on lawmakers’ support AUSTIN — Retired teachers facing the unwelcome prospect of paying higher monthly health insurance premiums received better- than-expected news last week. The Teachers Retirement System board of trustees on Sept. 21 voted not to increase premiums because the TRS staff negotiated a better rate and other cost savings with its health insurance provider, while keeping plan and pharmacy benefits the same. The TRS Care fund balance had been projected to be $410 million in the red at the end of 2021.

To address the shortfall, the Texas Legislature in 2017 directed TRS to increase premiums by $50 per year over the next four years. But TRS’s successful negotiations improved the projected fund balance to minus $238 million, an amount the Legislature can include in the appropriations process during its 2019 session, which begins in January. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he is “confident that the Senate will support additional funding for TRS Care” and “hopeful the next speaker of the House will follow our lead on this.”


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