Thursday, February 29, 2024

Executive Director’s Report – July 2023

July 2023 Executive Director’s Report

Dear RPEC Leaders:

From watermelon to barbequing, summer for RPEC chapters is all about relationship building with your local, state, and federal elected officials.  Keep up the good work!  2024 is a big election year, and this is the time when we need to focus on relationship building to support our legislative priorities.  Your chapter’s summertime activities are also the perfect time to welcome the many new members who joined RPEC recently. All told, RPEC has added nearly 1,600 new members since May. At your events this month, please encourage your new members to register for a special members-only benefits webinar hosted by Jakob Canup, Membership Coordinator, on July 28th.  We also hope that all members will join us for the kick-off of our new RPEC Speaker’s Series featuring Congresswoman Gluesenkamp Perez on August 2nd. Registration links for each event are below.

Federal Relations

Register today – RPEC Speaker’s Series featuring Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, August 2, 2:30-3:30 PM

Registration is now open for RPEC’s first virtual Speaker’s Series: Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez Discusses Threats to Medicare & Social Security. Congresswoman Gluesenkamp Perez represents Washington’s 3rd Congressional District (the southernmost portion of Western Washington to include Lewis, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, and Skamania counties). While new to Congress as of January 2023, Congresswoman Gluesenkamp Perez is quickly earning a reputation for her ability to work effectively on the bipartisan issues prioritized by RPEC members.

Her presentation will be followed by a structured Q & A period. Given the number of registrants that we anticipate, we plan to present the Congresswoman’s staff with the slate of questions in advance.  We will not be able to take questions in real-time with members raising their electronic hands or putting questions in chat.

Register at https://rpecwa.org/rpec-speakers-series-featuring-congresswoman-marie-gluesenkamp-perez/.

Please submit your questions via email to Emmett Mills, Government Affairs Coordinator, at Emmett.mills@rpecwa.org. Questions must be submitted to the Council Office no later than Wednesday, July 20th. Once received, we will identify the most frequently asked questions and will pass them along to our guest speaker. The questions will be posed by an RPEC facilitator.

RPEC seeks federal prescription drug subsidy for UMP Classic Medicare

If you read the Council Office’s weekly NewsFlash, you know that the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) announced that premiums are going up in 2024 for all plans.  The premium for Uniform Medical Plan (UMP) Classic Medicare is escalating by 22%. A few weeks ago, RPEC sent a letter to Senator Patty Murray about the need to extend the current federal prescription drug subsidies to plans like UMP Classic Medicare, a government self-insured plan that currently does not receive the subsidies afforded to privatized Medicare Advantage plans. RPEC members want a choice of plans, including those like UMP Classic Medicare, which resemble/support traditional Medicare. The federal subsidies are needed to ensure this plan is affordable for those who value it. UMP Classic Medicare remains the most popular plan offered by PEBB despite high premium costs.

RPEC President Clair Olivers, Elyette Weinstein (PEB Board member, Chapter 18), Carol Dotlich (District 8 Executive Board member, Chapter 12 President), and Bev Hermanson (Executive Committee member of the Select Committee on Pension Policy and RPEC Political Action Committee Chair, Chapter 2) are meeting with Senator Murray’s state director this month to chart a path forward.

Membership

Register today – Members-Only Benefits Webinar, July 28, 1:00-2:00 PM

Do you know about the various member-only benefits offered by RPEC? Whether you’re a new member or just looking to maximize the value of your membership, register today for the RPEC Benefits Webinar on July 28th from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM. The webinar will include an overview of RPEC member-only benefits, including discounts on dental services with Bright Now! Dental and hearing services with Hearing in America, as well as various other cost savings and discounts through AFSCME Advantage. Utilizing these benefits can improve your fixed income by saving you money on assorted services. Easily offset the cost of your membership by saving money with RPEC’s member-only benefits!

Register at https://rpecwa.org/members-only-benefits-webinar/

State Relations & Advocacy

Healthcare

This past legislative session, RPEC worked to support the successful passage of several key healthcare-related bills that will take effect on July 23. SSB 5490 is an important bill for any RPEC member who lost access to Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) healthcare coverage for failing to notify the Health Care Authority (HCA) of their intent to defer benefits and filed an appeal. If this applies to you, HCA has just released guidelines on how to apply for the reinstatement of benefit.  Click here for more information.

One-time COLA for PERS 1/TRS 1

Through our successful advocacy of SB 5350, RPEC members vested in Plan 1 will receive a one-time 3% cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) next month. The COLA is capped at $110 per month. The COLA will be applied to your July pension allocation.

Objective Medicare plan advisement

Since early spring, RPEC Healthcare Workgroup Chair Matt Groshong (Chapter 3 President) and a leader from the Washington Education Association-Retired (WEA-R) have been meeting with the director of the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) to develop resources to help our members better navigate the PEBB open enrollment process in November. Our aim in initiating this new effort with SHIBA was to help to alleviate the stress that comes from trying to navigate an overly complex and confusing Medicare and healthcare landscape within the one-month only open enrollment window. With the help and input of Matt and RPEC’s Healthcare Workgroup, SHIBA is constructing a variety of new online tools and resources. The new online tools will be available in August. We are grateful for the expertise and insights that Matt and the Healthcare Workgroup have provided to SHIBA to initiate these new tools for our members. More details will be available soon.

Agency launches new online portal – Benefits 24/7

The Health Care Authority (HCA) has postponed the launch of a new online benefits portal for retirees. No new launch date has been provided for Benefits 24/7. More details will be shared when information is made available by HCA.

Monthly Legislative Update Calls Extend through December

The Legislative Update Calls will be held monthly through December. The next call will take place on August 4th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Visit www.rpecwa.org for the login information.

Upcoming events

Visit www.rpecwa.org for a full calendar of Council Office and chapter meetings:

  • July 12 – Public Employees Benefits Board Meeting (9:00 am)
  • July 13 – Healthcare Workgroup Meeting (3:30 pm)
  • July 14 – Legislative Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
  • July 17 – Senior Lobby (10:00 am)
  • July 18 – Select Committee on Pension Policy Meeting (10:00 am)
  • July 19 – Public Employees Benefits Board Meeting (9:00 am)
  • July 19 – WFSE Resource Fair, Bremerton (11:00 am)
  • July 20 – WFSE Member Resource Fair, Vancouver (5:30 pm)
  • July 26 – Public Employees Benefits Board Meeting (9:00 am)
  • July 27 – Membership Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
  • July 27 – Healthcare Workgroup Meeting (3:30 pm)
  • July 28 – Member Benefits Webinar (1:00 pm)
  • August 2 – RPEC Speaker’s Series, Congresswoman Maria Gluesenkamp Perez (2:30 pm)
  • August 4 – Monthly Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • August 10 – Healthcare Workgroup Meeting (3:30 pm)

Best,
Laurie

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