Sunday, February 25, 2024

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, November 24, 2023

RPEC Weekly NewsFlash, November 24, 2023

Time is running out to change your PEBB healthcare plan, November 1-30

The PEBB Open Enrollment period will end on November 30th.  If you want to make a change to your healthcare plan, don’t delay!  You must submit the necessary forms by the end of November, or you will remain enrolled in your current healthcare plan. To help RPEC members navigate PEBB’s complicated healthcare landscape, the Council developed the Guide to Open Enrollment with relevant links and information.  Highlights include links to webinars, produced by RPEC and the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), which outline the differences among the plans, as well as an informative, comprehensive webinar hosted by HCA.  The HCA-PEBB/RPEC 2023-2024 Open Enrollment Guide can be found at https://rpecwa.org/health-insurance-open-enrollment-2023-2024/.

Get Registered for 2024 Legislative Day

2024 will be here before we know it, and with it, legislative session beginning on January 8. The RPEC/WEA-R Joint Legislative Day is set for January 22, 2024, and registration is open!

The day-long event begins at the Olympia Hotel at Capitol Lake where the Legislative Committee chairs from RPEC and WEA-R will lead a training on how to speak with your legislators about issues that are important to retirees. You and other constituents from your legislative district will review your meeting schedule and materials to devise a game plan over a working lunch. From there, you will bus to the Capitol to meet with your legislators and urge them to support our shared legislative priorities. Please note that there is no reception this year.

The registration period closes on January 3, 2024. For more information, visit https://rpecwa.org/2024-rpec-wea-retired-legislative-day/. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet face-to-face with your legislators and advocate with other public sector retirees to accomplish our goals.

Medicare Open Enrollment Closes December 7

Time is running out on the open enrollment period for Medicare.  This article contains information from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that is relevant to people who are Medicare-eligible and do not obtain their health insurance through the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB).  Information about PEBB open enrollment can be found here.

When’s the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Every year, Medicare’s open enrollment period is October 15 – December 7.

What’s the Medicare Open Enrollment Period?

Medicare health and drug plans can make changes each year—things like cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks. October 15 to December 7 is when all people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs.

How do people know if they need to change plans?

People in a Medicare health or prescription drug plan should always review the materials their plans send them, like the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) and “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC). If their plans are changing, they should make sure their plans will still meet their needs for the following year. If they’re satisfied that their current plans will meet their needs for next year and it’s still being offered, they don’t need to do anything.

Where can people find Medicare plan information or compare plans?

1-800-MEDICARE or Medicare.gov.

Where can I get answers to my questions and unbiased advice?

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s State Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program provides unbiased advice and assistance to help people navigate Medicare.  Call them during business hours at 800-562-6900 or click here to contact SHIBA online.

Expanding Provider Roster for Mental Health Services Through Medicare

Medicare provides a lifeline for seniors to get access to sufficient health care at an affordable cost, but some health care is less accessible than others. Despite demand for mental health services being on the rise, mental health services are the least accessible medical specialty for Medicare. An astonishing 45% of psychiatrists and 54% of psychologists don’t participate in Medicare (more than 124,000 behavioral health practitioners). The reasoning for the lack of participation in Medicare from mental health professionals is that they are disincentivized by low payments and bureaucratic hassles.

There is hope on the horizon for seniors seeking mental health services due to recent legislative and regulatory changes. Beginning in January, Medicare will allow marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors to provide services. Access to mental health services is a need for all people, especially seniors that experience the loss of loved ones, health issues, etc. This is a significant move toward prioritizing and taking care of our aging population after they spent decades contributing to the workforce. Through their careers, public sector retirees have earned the right to adequate mental health services to ensure a happy and healthy lifestyle.

You can read about it and other improvements to mental health services accessible through Medicare here: https://kffhealthnews.org/news/article/medicare-mental-health-professionals-more-options/

Union Plus Holiday Deals

The holidays are right around the corner, holidays mean discounts, and that includes deals on member benefits! Union Plus offers a variety of holiday savings, including discounts on your monthly wireless bill, flowers, gift shopping, and much more. Due to RPEC’s affiliation with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), RPEC members have access to a plethora of savings opportunities. Explore the holiday benefits to find out how much you can save: https://www.unionplus.org/benefits/shopping-discounts

The RPEC PAC Needs Your Support

How will you be celebrating Giving Tuesday?  While it might not be as well known as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving is celebrated as Giving Tuesday around the world.  It’s a day to consider giving to a cause that makes the world a better place.  And for RPEC members, it’s a day to consider contributing to the RPEC Political Action Committee (PAC).

2024 is a huge election year in our state, with open races for Governor, Attorney General, and Office of the Insurance Commissioner.  Additionally, most of the State Legislature is up for election.  You can be sure that the corporations getting rich on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be spending big money on big-business candidates.  In 2022, Amazon spent over $427,000 on statewide, legislative, and local elections here in Washington.  As we work in Olympia to try to pass pro-retiree legislation, we are working with legislators who are funded by big business.  To accomplish our goals legislative goals, we must be able to exert the same sort of influence.  Legislators need to know that we will be there for them when they put retirees ahead of huge corporations.

That’s why we have the RPEC PAC, the most powerful pro-retiree political action committee in the state.  Our goal is to elect candidates to statewide and state legislative office who are committed to protecting our retirement security.  We need to have resources to support leaders who stand with us and defeat politicians who want to gut pensions and health insurance benefits.

By Tuesday, November 28, please consider giving your support to the RPEC PAC.  The RPEC Today! newsletter you recently received by mail has a form on the back page that will enable you to make a monthly contribution to the RPEC PAC.  Contributions of any size help us stand up for retirees who dedicated their lives to public service.  If you would prefer to make a one-time contribution, please consider mailing a check made out to “RPEC PAC”.  Our address is 906 Columbia St SW Ste. 501, Olympia, WA 98501.  If you have any questions about contributing to the PAC, please contact info@rpecwa.org or call (360) 352-8262.  Thank you for your support.

Upcoming Events:

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

  • Nov. 30 – End of PEBB Open Enrollment Period
  • Dec. 1 – Monthly Legislative Update Call (2:00 pm)
  • Dec. 4 – PSARA Webinar (5:00 pm)
  • Dec. 8 – Legislative Committee Meeting (10:00 am)
  • Dec. 11 – Executive Board Meeting (10:00 am)
  • Dec. 12 – Select Committee on Pension Policy Meeting (10:00 am)
  • Dec. 13 – Health Care is a Human Right Meeting (5:00 pm)
  • Dec. 14 – Healthcare Workgroup Meeting (3:30 pm)
  • Dec. 18 – Senior Lobby (10:00 am)
  • Dec. 25 – Jan. 1 – Council Office Closed, Winter Holidays
  • Dec. 28 – Healthcare Workgroup Meeting (3:30 pm)

Your Voice for Retirement Security!

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