Monday morning, the Senate State Affairs Committee heard HB 3976, the House bill restructuring TRS-Care into two separate plans for age 65+ and pre-65 retirees. The House version is very similar to the Senate version (SB 788) that had passed out of the committee earlier in the session but stalled before reaching the Senate floor.

A key piece of the legislation is the associated funding, which is not in that bill but is part of the budget negotiations in SB 1. During the layout of the bill today, Chair Joan Huffman stated that it was her hope that the higher funding level proposed by the House, paid for in part by an increase in the TRS-Care contribution from school districts, would be approved. Her version of the bill includes the school district increase.

Huffman also added a benefit improvement by proposing to designate an estimated $20 million to include free maintenance drugs for the pre-65 retirees (this is already a provision for the 65+ group). Up to now, the plan has not included any coverage for prescription drugs until the high deductible ($3,000, under the House funding) is reached. It is not yet known what specific drugs will be covered, and undoubtedly many pre-65 retirees will still find it difficult to pay for expensive drugs before reaching the deductible ($3,000 under the House's proposed level of funding). But the change, if implemented as described, is a welcome addition to the proposal. 

The committee voted the bill out favorably, and it will now head to the Senate floor.