We hope that you and all of your family members remain in good health during a time of unprecedented upheaval as we all try to live through this pandemic. There are a few items we would like to update you on.
SFCRTA Book Awards
Jenna Calorossi, Stamford H. S. – Elem. Ed. , UCONN
Sofia Hardman, Westhill H. S. – Elem. Ed., Howard Univ.
Christopher Suarez, Westhill H.S. – Computer Science Teacher, Syracuse Univ.
Andrew Fong, Westhill H.S.- Computer Science Teacher, Northwestern Univ.
Alexia Endara, Westhill H.S.- Psychology, UCONN
Rachel Mensah, Westhill H.S.- Urban and General Public Health, Cornell Univ.
Jaedyn Carty, Westhill H.S.- Biomedical Orthodontics, Xavier Univ.
Sophia Thagouras, Westhill H.S.- Physical Therapy, Univ. Of Georgia
We would also like to share some articles from the ARTC spring newsletter that will provide you with some information on issues that are affecting retired teachers at the state level.
As you may know the Connecticut Capital building closed on March 11 and legislators were not allowed to return before the constitutional adjournment date of May 6. Legislators have held no meetings or hearings in the capital.
Nevertheless, although we are volunteers, ARTC remains committed to advocating for our issues. Our Executive Committee holds monthly phone conversations and our Legislative Committee is in frequent contact with our lobbyist Kevin Graff. Our legislative chairs receive weekly reports of any issues of concern to retired teachers and daily reports on the Governor’s updates. The information largely centers on the devastating human toll of the coronavirus, as well as its economic impact on the State. The last report has projected that the State would end the year with a $900 million budget deficit.
The legislative committee, along with our lobbyist, will be following closely how the State’s revenue will affect our pension fund and its investments returns.
A special session of the legislature may be called as early as this summer to address necessary action regarding adjustments to the state budget and/or public health legislation in response to the pandemic. Although hearings have never taken place, we have prepared written drafts in response to Raise Bill 440 (supporting the lowering of the investment performance of our retirement fund from 8.5% to 6.9% for our COLA) and Raise Bill 438 (offering arguments for an additional retired teacher to be appointed to the TRB.) Should these bills or any other bills that might affect retired teachers be raised, we will contact members for follow up.
Cathy D’Agostino & Sandra Bove
Due to the coronavirus, the state has closed operations in all non-essential departments. This includes the TRB, which is only accepting critical emergencies by phone or email. The expected move of the TRB office is now on hold. Our committee anticipates that the Express Scripts contract, which was up for renewal, will be extended for one year and coverage will stay the same. We will contact members when the decision is made.
In mid March the TRB posted the following information regarding our medical coverage plans: the total number of retirees is 38,247. Those enrolled in the Medicare Advantage Plan are 24,978 and those enrolled in Medicare Supplemental Plan are 5,507. Both are fully funded by Anthem.
Special note: The US Department of Human Services Inspector General found that75% OF MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS DENIALS WERE REVERSED WHEN APPEALS WERE FILED. It pays to appeal any denials of coverage.
Rick and Louise Follman
From Our Lobbyist
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, ARTC lobbyists have been working with the legislative committee to make sure issues affecting retired teachers are understood and on the radar of key policymakers. We do this through direct conversations and emails and by creating formal fact sheets and letters stating our priorities.
Our goal for the ARTC is to make sure that when the time comes for addressing the state budget, key legislators and executive branch officials will know our priorities and do their best to advocate on our behalf.
Our membership goes from – January to December. If you have not yet joined, click here for our membership renewal information for 2020. Remember: Numbers matter and we still face many important issues regarding our pension and health insurance.
Be careful. Stay safe.
Frank Cooper, President