RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, February 2, 2024
UMP Classic Medicare Could Be Reconfigured in 2025: Provide feedback through public forums this month
In response to our budget proviso from the 2023 legislative session, the Health Care Authority (HCA) released the findings of a study highlighting healthcare plan options that would have the same excellent benefits available through the Uniform Medical Plan (UMP) Classic Medicare but would have more affordable premiums. The report was discussed by the PEB Board at its annual retreat held yesterday. HCA staff asked the PEB Board to allow the agency to further explore a potential new configuration of UMP Classic Medicare that would save retirees a “considerable amount of money” each month.
Under this potential new configuration, the medical benefits will remain unchanged. The pharmacy benefit would shift to an employer-managed Plan D pharmacy plan that nearly mirrors what is currently available in UMP Classic Medicare. This potential new configuration would lower the overall cost of the monthly premium because the Plan D pharmacy benefit would be eligible for federal pharmaceutical drug subsidies. No decision has been rendered yet. The PEB Board directed HCA to seek input from stakeholders about this potential new configuration.
To that end, HCA is hosting three virtual public forums and one in-person public forum (in Olympia) this month to give retirees an opportunity to share feedback on this proposed new configuration. Details about how to register for the public forums will be available at www.hca.wa.gov on February 5th. Information will also be published in next week’s NewsFlash and at www.rpecwa.org.
RPEC, in concert with the PEBB Stakeholders’ Medicare Coalition, sent a formal letter to HCA and the PEB Board, encouraging the agency to expand outreach efforts with more engagement opportunities aimed at older retirees and those outside of Western Washington. The letter also requested that HCA expand the stakeholder engagement timeline to allow for more feedback. HCA responded favorably to the letter and will be meeting with RPEC’s Executive Director to discuss the outreach recommendations outlined in the letter. T
The stakeholder engagement timeline will continue to be this month only, as HCA intends to summarize retiree input and share it with the PEB Board by mid-March. Per yesterday’s retreat, a vote on the new configuration would need to take place at the April 11th PEB Board meeting, in order to allow time for the agency to prepare retirees for open enrollment in November 2024. It was made clear yesterday that if the PEB Board chooses not to pursue this option, retirees who are covered under UMP Classic Medicare, can expect another double-digit premium increase in 2025.
RPEC Bill Tracker 2-2-2024
Want to stay up to date on the progress of bills that impact your retirement security? Check out RPEC’s bill tracker. It’s updated every Friday and includes important information on the most important bills of this legislative session. The tracker allows you to stay up to date on our bills and our work to influence their progress. Click here to view the bill tracker.
Have questions about any of the bills that RPEC is paying attention to? Please join us on Fridays at 2:00 PM for RPEC’s weekly Legislative Update Zoom call. Each session includes an update on the progress of RPEC’s priorities and an opportunity for members to ask questions. All members are welcome to participate. Here is the meeting login information:
Meeting ID: 890 4536 5250
Dial in: (253) 215-8782
Successful Virtual RPEC/WEA-R Joint Legislative Day Provides Timely Input to Legislators
We would like to give a huge shout out to those who attended this year’s virtual Legislative Day for their outstanding work during the training session and their advocacy in legislative meetings. Members quickly adapted to all the sudden logistical changes (due to the shift to a virtual format) and made the most out of their 15-minute meetings with legislators and their policy staff.
Over 200 members registered for the event from both RPEC and the Washington Education Association – Retired (WEA-R). Approximately 150 participated in the training session (note that some registrants only attended meetings with their legislators). The training session featured State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti as the key speaker and included valuable information and tools for staying on message, sharing your story, and maximizing legislator meetings.
More than half of the 86 confirmed meetings were with legislators. Members were organized, professional, and concise as they discussed our priorities and asked for a commitment to support HB 1985. Thanks to the work you have done to build strong relationships with your elected officials through the legislative interim, most legislators were already aware that Plan 1 retirees do not receive an ongoing cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and seemed to be in favor of not only an ad hoc COLA, but also the restoration of an ongoing Plan 1 COLA in the future.
Thank you all for your hard work and advocacy in making this event such a huge success. We look forward to seeing you next year!
Get More Involved with RPEC
All RPEC members are welcome and encouraged to attend our standing committee, workgroup, and Executive Board meetings. While guests cannot vote on or make motions, observing these member-led meetings is a great way for you to gain insights and updates year-round on what the organization is doing both internally and legislatively. You may even find yourself interested in serving!
At the November Executive Board meeting, following the 2024 RPEC Convention, the Board will vote to appoint committee and workgroup members that have been nominated by the RPEC President. If you are interested in becoming more involved and serving in the future, please let us know!
Visit our calendar on www.rpecwa.org for additional information and Zoom meeting links.
Cut Your Expenses by Accessing RPEC’s Member-Only Benefits
As a member of RPEC, you have access to a wide variety of cost savings and discounts via RPEC’s member-only benefits. Through our affiliation with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), RPEC members have access to the benefits available on the AFSCME Advantage website (see steps below for how to access). Aside from AFSCME Advantage, members can also save money on dental and hearing services with Bright Now! Dental and Hear in America. To explore these benefits, visit our member-only benefits page at: https://rpecwa.org/member-only-benefits/
We know that having a fixed income means every cent counts, and that’s why members are encouraged to explore member-only benefits to save money on expenses. Get the most value out of your membership by accessing RPEC’s robust array of benefits.
To access AFSCME Advantage benefits:
- Contact RPEC Membership Coordinator Jakob Canup at (360) 352-8262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Membership Coordinator will determine if AFSCME has assigned you an ID number.
- If you received an AFSCME Member Card in the mail, that would also have your ID number on it.
- If you haven’t been assigned an ID number, the Membership Coordinator will facilitate communications with AFSCME.
- Once you have your AFSCME ID number, you can access AFSCME Advantage benefits here: https://www.afscme.org/member-resources/afscme-advantage.
- When prompted to provide the name of the organization you belong to, inform them you are a member of AFSCME Retirees Chapter 10 (RPEC).
Please refer to our calendar page for more information for each event, including links to Zoom meetings, if available.
- Feb. 8 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
- Feb. 9 – Legislative Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
- Feb. 9 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
- Feb. 16 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
- Feb. 19 – Council Office closed, Presidents’ Day
- Feb. 22 – Healthcare Workgroup (3:30 pm)
- Feb. 23 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
- Feb. 26 – Executive Board Meeting (9:00 am)
- Mar. 1 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
- Mar. 7 – Sine Die (end of Legislative Session)
- Mar. 8 – Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)