Friday, May 24, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, April 26, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, April 26, 2024

Call to Action – Repeal Social Security WEP/GPO Provisions

We published this Call to Action in an early February NewsFlash, shortly after H.R. 82 was introduced to the U.S. House and referred to committee. We are once more requesting your action, as this bill is again being heard and discussed.

Last week, the U.S. House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing about how the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO) unfairly harm many public servants and their families. The Windfall Elimination Provision affects over two million public-sector retirees who are drawing a pension from an employer not covered by Social Security. The Government Pension Offset affects nearly 800,000 spouse/survivor beneficiaries by reducing their benefit by two-thirds.

We need your help by signing onto a letter to your U.S. Representatives, asking them to repeal the Social Security WEP/GPO provisions by passing H.R. 82. The bill has 318 bipartisan cosponsors, including Rep. DelBene (CD 1), Larsen (CD 2), Newhouse (CD 4), McMorris Rodgers (CD 5), Kilmer (CD 6), Jayapal (CD 7), Schrier (CD 8), and Strickland (CD 10) from Washington State. If your U.S. Representative is not on this list (namely Gluesenkamp Perez (CD 3) and Smith (CD 9)), we ask that you reach out to them and urge them sign on to this bill as a cosponsor.

Sign onto the letter by clicking here!

RPEC Leadership Training – Registration Now Open!

Are you interested in being a future leader for your chapter or serving on RPEC’s Executive Board? Are you a newly elected or re-elected chapter officer? We encourage any member who is interested in or is curious to know more about leadership to attend RPEC’s annual virtual Leadership Training. This training is necessary for all re-elected and new chapter officers.

This will be a 2-part training on Zoom: Leadership Training, led by the Council Office on June 10th, and the AFSCME Financial Standards Training on June 14th. The registration deadline is May 17th.

Register here: https://2024.rpecwa.org/2024-leadership-training/

The training has been revamped to align with the new Strategic Plan implemented by the Executive Board, and will cover topics including: RPEC’s organizational structure, effectively communicating with your chapter, interacting with and recruiting potential members, mobilizing your chapter for legislative advocacy, running successful meetings, and more. The tools and content for the training are updated and improved upon each year, so please plan to participate even if you have already done so in the past.

To the leaders who are maintaining their position of office, we look forward to continuing our work with you. To those that are new to leadership, welcome, and we hope you are as excited as we are about the path ahead of you. With a strong foundation of chapter leaders, there is no limit to what RPEC can accomplish.

Join Us for May 3 Legislative Update Call

Please join us on Friday, May 3 for RPEC’s monthly Legislative Update Call. Log into Zoom at 2:00 PM to get the latest updates on state and federal issues pertaining to your retirement security.

In May, we will cover the work of the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP) as it begins to develop a proposal to restore an automatic ongoing COLA to PERS 1 and TRS 1 retirees. As 2024 is a big election year, we will also focus on the work of the RPEC Political Action Committee (PAC) to elect pro-retiree candidates. We will discuss some of the changes that we anticipate occurring in the legislature due to retirements and look at legislative districts where we expect to see especially competitive races in November.

Legislative Update Calls occur on the first Friday of each month and are a great opportunity to learn more about the issues that most immediately impact your retirement security. The format is conversational and asking questions is highly encouraged.  We’ll see you at 2:00 PM on May 3.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89045365250?pwd=cHYvbU80d08xTXRLTmpOZGF1VW53QT09

Dial in: (253) 215-8782
Meeting ID: 890 4536 5250
Passcode: 320296

Virtual Executive Board Meetings, May 6 & 7 – Open to All Members

Are you interested in learning more about RPEC and our priorities? If so, please join us for the May 6th and 7th Executive Board meetings. Both meetings will take place via Zoom and begin at 9 a.m. The meeting on May 6th will focus on key business items and will include an update about our pending biennial convention, September 24-26th, at the Wenatchee Convention Center. The May 7th meeting will focus on the Executive Board’s progress to date regarding the implementation of the strategic plan, which was unanimously approved by the Executive Board at the November 2023 meeting. Implementation began in January. The log-in and call-in information is the same for both meetings. Log-in and call-in information is available at: www.rpecwa.org.

April 27th is Prescription Drug Take Back Day

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is held biannually, on the last Saturdays of April and October, to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential misuse of medications.

When can I take them back? The next Take Back Day will be held on Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On this day and every day, Washingtonians are encouraged to dispose of their unneeded or expired prescription medications.

Where can I take or send them? To find a location near you, visit medtakebackwashington.org. You can also request a mail-back package to dispose of unwanted medications, inhalers, and injectors.

Save the Date: Alliance for Retired Americans 2024 Western Regional Conference

On June 5th and 6th, the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) will hold its Western Regional Meetings at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. During the meeting, four ARA Executive Board members from the western region will be elected. For more information and to register, visit: https://actionnetwork.org/ticketed_events/2024-western-regional-meeting?source=direct_link&

The AFL-CIO has asked the ARA to collect retiree stories that highlight the successes of labor unions. If you have a story you would like to share, fill out the form at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdFx1Rfelirh1uw38G3dnXNtObH07R9dXIEb9paLlfs8kSLOw/viewform?pli=1

The Alliance is also looking for stories from members insured by Medicare Advantage who have experienced issues with accessing treatments, medications, or providers. To share your story, fill out this form https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSel4B1RN8-06JVU-mDBNy4cKO2gn2kVhHbJZe1rFnS3-JjfkQ/viewform

Please contact Joni Jones at Jjones@retiredamericans.org if you have any questions.

Appealing Health Insurance Denials

It can be stressful when health insurers deny treatment you need or medical bills that you feel should have been covered. Fortunately, if your health insurer has said no to a bill dispute or treatment, you have the right to appeal the decision.

The first step is to review the denial letter from your insurance provider. The denial letter will include the reason for the denial and information on their appeals process and timeline, which can vary depending on your plan. Read about common reasons for denials and find examples of appeals letters here.

If there was a billing or claims processing error, contact your medical care provider’s billing office so they can resolve the issue with the insurer. If that still doesn’t work, inform your medical provider’s office that you intend to appeal the denial. In the meantime, work with them to handle any outstanding bills that are due during your appeals process. They may work with you to negotiate the amount you owe or set up a payment plan instead of sending the bill to collections. You can also pay the bill and be reimbursed by your health plan if you win your appeal. Don’t forget, as an RPEC member, you have exclusive access to free medical bill negotiating services through Health Advocate. You will need your AFSCME ID to apply. Contact RPEC’s Membership Coordinator, Jakob Canup, at Jakob.canup@rpecwa.org to get your AFSCME ID if you don’t already have it.

For treatment denials, you will need to appeal to overturn the insurer’s decision. First, identify your type of insurance coverage and which law your plan follows. If you are unsure, click here. Note that some plans are not subject to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) regulations and/or are not required to meet state or federal requirements. Original Medicare (Parts A and B), Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), and Medicare Advantage are all regulated by the federal government and subject to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The OIC website provides appeals information specifically for Medicare plans, which you can view here.

If you have exhausted your health insurance company’s internal review process without success, you can request a second level (external) review of your appeal by an independent review organization (IRO), an independent third-party that can determine whether the insurer should cover your claim or not.

The health care landscape can feel overwhelming and confusing. To learn more about health insurance, visit https://www.insurance.wa.gov/health-insurance. Additionally, RPEC’s Healthcare Workgroup, chaired by Chapter 3 President Matt Groshong, consists of dedicated members who continue to do extensive research to gain a better understanding of the complex health care landscape and further support retirees. RPEC is also the only retiree organization with representation on the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB). Go to the RPEC calendar for information to attend these virtual meetings.

Upcoming Events:

Please refer to our calendar page for more information for each event, including links to Zoom meetings, if available.

  • May 3 – Pension Policy Workgroup (10:00 am)
  • May 3 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • May 6 – Executive Board Meeting (9:00 am)
  • May 7 – Executive Board Meeting, Strategic Planning (9:00 am)
  • May 9 – Public Employees Benefits Board (9:00 am)
  • May 9 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
  • May 17 – Leadership Training Registration Deadline
  • May 20 – Political Action Committee (10:00 am)
  • May 21 – Select Committee on Pension Policy (10:00 am)
  • May 23 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
  • May 27 – Council Office closed, Memorial Day

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