Executive Director’s Report – May 2023
Congratulations! Sine Die, the end of the legislative session, occurred on April 23, and, due to your advocacy efforts, RPEC’s top legislative priorities were passed by the Legislature. Read the full end-of-session legislative report in the spring edition of the membership newsletter, which will be in your mailboxes by the end of this month. It will also be posted later this month to RPEC’s website.
All-member written survey – Please complete the survey and mail it back!
The Executive Board embarked on a strategic planning process earlier this year that began with information gathering from members. One piece of that process is asking all members to complete a written survey. Your input will help the Executive Board identify our strategic direction and goals to carry the organization for the next 5 years. Your feedback matters. You should have received the survey by now. If you have not yet filled it out, please do so, and mail it back to the Council Office right away.
Two key legislative victories
Throughout the legislative session, RPEC leaders and members advocated for SB 5350. This bill unanimously passed the Legislature after a battle over amendments that were concerning for RPEC. Ultimately, our Senators prevailed, and the bill passed without the alarming amendments. In July, PERS 1 and TRS 1 retirees will receive a one-time 3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) not to exceed $110 per month. That bill also requires the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP) to study and recommend a proposal to the Legislature for a recurring COLA.
We also prevailed in ensuring greater accountability for the Health Care Authority (HCA) through a proviso that Senator June Robinson fought hard to secure in the final budget act. The proviso provides funding to HCA to report to the Legislature their findings from the stakeholder engagements with retirees (see below) to improve services. The proviso also requires the agency to identify additional government self-insured plans, like the Uniform Medical Plan (UMP)Classic Medicare, that offer great benefits but have more affordable premiums for retirees.
Stay tuned! Our advocacy work will begin soon. We have work to do together this summer and fall with the SCPP. And, we have more work to do with HCA so that the agency provides better service to retirees. Again, look for the full end-of-session legislative report in the spring edition of the membership newsletter.
Health Care Authority’s (HCA) Virtual and In-person Listening Sessions and virtual public forums wrap up this month
All RPEC leaders and members who receive their healthcare benefits from the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) are asked to register to take part in virtual and in-person listening sessions hosted by HCA. All stakeholder engagements will conclude this month. There is still space available in all sessions. Register here.
Retirees and their spouses or partners who are covered under UMP Classic, Kaiser Permanente NW Senior Advantage, Kaiser Permanente WA Medicare plans, Premera Blue Cross Medicare Supplement Plan G, UnitedHealthcare PEBB Balance, or United Healthcare PEBB Complete are eligible to participate. The listening sessions and public forums are your opportunity to share insights with HCA staff about your healthcare plan and the quality of services you receive from HCA. All virtual and in-person listening sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. HCA will follow-up with registrants via email and provide the questions, background information, and Zoom login information (for the virtual sessions) and/or the location/directions (for in-person sessions).
An in-person listening session will be held in Bothell on May 16th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The location will be posted soon on the HCA website. HCA staff will follow up with directions and details. Space is still available. Register here.
Two more virtual public forums are also available on May 17th and 24th from 10-11:30 a.m. The public forums function like a public hearing. Registrants will have 3 minutes to speak about whatever issue, challenge, or suggestion they want to convey to HCA staff. Space is still available. Register here.
If you cannot attend a virtual or the last in-person listening session, the virtual public forum is another opportunity to share insights about your healthcare plan and the quality of service you receive from HCA. The virtual public forums are also open to those who have already participated in a listening session but have more to share or say. You can also use your 3 minutes to offer suggestions to HCA regarding how they can improve communications and service to retirees.
Interested in learning more about RPEC? Register to attend the two-part Leadership Training Sessions on June 26 & June 30
All members-at-large who want to learn more about RPEC or who may be interested in serving in a leadership role within their chapter or the Council are welcome to register for the two-part annual Leadership Training taking place on June 26th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and June 30th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Part 1, held on June 26th, is designed for those who have been elected to serve as chapter officers or are serving in elected or appointed chapter chair positions. The training will cover everything you need to know about the organization, our mission, the Council Office, how to work with our professional team, legislative affairs, building chapter member engagement and more. Register here.
Part 2, held on June 30th, is the AFSCME Financial Standards Code Training. This training session is designed for all current chapter leaders. The training will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register here.
Legislative Update Calls are held monthly from May through December
With the legislative session now over, the Legislative Update Calls will move to a monthly schedule from May through December. The next call will take place on May 5 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. That day, the Legislative Committee will also meet from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. If you are interested in learning more about our advocacy efforts or have interest in getting more involved, please plan to attend the Legislative Committee meeting and the Legislative Update Call. Visit www.rpecwa.org for the login information and more details about both virtual meetings.
May is Older Americans Month
Through the adoption of the Older Americans Act of 1965, the month of May became the federal monthly observance of Older Americans Month. This month is a time for us to continue to speak out and collectively act to protect Social Security, Medicare, and efforts here in Washington to restrict access to quality healthcare. RPEC is the state’s premiere advocacy organization for public sector retirees like you. We are focused on the priorities that matter most to you in retirement, including protecting pension and healthcare security. Older Americans Month is the perfect time to reach out to your state legislators to thank them for their support of RPEC’s legislative priorities and to remind them that public sector retirees are a valuable resource and constituency.
Visit www.rpecwa.org for a full calendar of Council Office and chapter meetings:
- May 2: HCA Virtual Listening Session
- May 4: HCA Virtual Listening Session
- May 5: Legislative Committee
- May 5: Monthly Legislative Update Call
- May 8: Executive Committee
- May 9: HCA Virtual Listening Session
- May 10: HCA Virtual Listening Session
- May 10: Public Service Recognition Week (Capitol campus)
- May 16: HCA In-person Listening Session, Bothell
- May 18: HCA Virtual Listening Session
- May 19: Monthly Leadership Call (open to all leaders and members)
- May 22: Executive Board Strategic Planning Work Session
- May 23: Executive Board Meeting
- May 25: HCA Virtual Listening Session
- May 25: Healthcare Workgroup
- May 30: HCA Virtual Listening Session
- May 31: HCA Virtual Listening Session