Concern about the future of health care is the topic of this month’s meeting for the Madison County Retired Teachers’ Association (MCRTA).

The group meets at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the Sandwich Shop, 1416 Lexington Rd., Richmond.

Inspired by events occurring in Wisconsin, where thousands of public workers have protested proposed budget cuts that will force employees to contribute more for benefits, the MCRTA hopes to use its meeting to educate teachers and retired teachers about Kentucky’s laws and regulations concerning health care.

“We are concerned about insurance,” said Pam Powell, secretary for the MCRTA. “Right now, all of us, even active teachers, are having to pay more for insurance.”

The Kentucky Retired Teachers Association (KRTA) was created in 1957 to support retired teachers.

It states that it is the only organization in Kentucky that has as its main purpose to look out for the welfare of retired educators, according to the KRTA website.

The KRTA claims more than 28,000 members.

KRTA is separate from the state-run Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS).

Known legally as the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Kentucky, the KTRS was established by law in 1938.

KTRS membership is mandatory for all employees with jobs that require a four-year college degree as condition of employment.

The state’s main solution to the problem is House Bill 540.

Signed into law on April 13, 2010, the law states that it was designed to provide a long-term, sustainable method for funding medical insurance for retired teachers. 

The state has been redirecting contributions from the KTRS Pension Fund to pay for KTRS retirees’ health care since 2004 in an amount totaling approximately $562 million, according to information from the KTRS. 

It says that the state is repaying these redirected contributions back, with interest, to the Pension Fund over staggered 10-year periods. This practice is a result of the fact that the KTRS Medical Insurance Fund is not sufficiently funded to meet the increase in the costs of funding retiree health care over that same period of time.

It goes on to state that the redirecting of pension contributions creates jeopardy for the financial stability of pension fund because every redirected dollar is one less dollar that KTRS can invest to pay for retiree benefits. The actuary for the KTRS Pension Fund has determined that a workable solution must be implemented over the next six years to protect the financial stability of the KTRS Pension Fund.  Failure to implement that solution will result in the Pension Fund having insufficient assets to pay retired teacher annuities in the future.  

According to the bill, retired teachers age 65 will experience no change, retired teachers under 65 step in to paying Medicare Part B Premium by paying 33 percent in 2010, 67 percent in 2011 and 100 percent in 2012, and retirees under age 65 will pay $37 each month in 2010 toward the $589 per month cost of their individual policy

MCRTA members hope to use this month’s meeting, and future meetings, to help members understand how state laws about health care affect them.

The meeting will begin with a short talk from Mendi Goble, executive director of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

Following Goble will be a series of reports, including one on health care, as well as other relevant news.

Tim Mandell can be reached at tmandell@richmondregister.com or 623-1669 ext. 6696.

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