Published: 26 August 2015
Last Updated: 26 August 2015
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS—HCTC Updated 8/24/15
The Board of theDSRA-BT has already received many questions regarding the recent passage of the HCTC. The following is an update to our previous FAQs. If you don’t see an answer to your question, please send an e-mail to Lori Ostrander, Secretary. Her e-mail can be accessed through the DSRA-BT website under “Contact Us”. The updated items are included in RED below.Read more: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS—HCTC Updated 8/24/15
Published: 28 July 2015
Last Updated: 28 July 2015
The following notice applies to all DSRA-BT Eligible Retirees and Surviving Spouses
Special Open Enrollment Window Opens August 3-13, 2015
As a result of the reauthorization of the HCTC, the DSRA Benefit Trust and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) will hold a medical insurance “SPECIAL OPEN ENROLLMENT “ sign up window for pre-65 medical, dental and vision coverage from August 3 through August 13, 2015. This will allow new coverage elections to begin on September 1, 2015.
Details about the DSRA-BT healthcare plans and a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’S) are available at our website.
For those who are currently enrolled in a DSRA-BT BCBSM plan, BCBSM has indicated that they will automatically transfer your deductibles and Out-of-Pocket amounts if you are changing from one DSRA-BT plan to another, but not from an outside plan to one of our medical plan offerings. In addition, there will be no refunds of deductibles or Out-of-Pocket amounts that are in excess of your new plan limits.
Enrollment applications can be found at the DSRA-BT website (click here) or for existing members at the BCBSM, Member Secured Services website. If you need an enrollment application sent to you via US Mail, you may call 877-354-2583 and request an application, but your window of opportunity is short. You must act quickly.
Who is eligible for the HCTC:
- Those people who are ages 55-64 and are currently drawing their pension from the PBGC, including surviving spouses.
- Spouses (<65) of retirees (drawing their PBGC pension) who have reached age 65 but are less than 67 years of age.
What you can do with this opportunity if you meet eligibility requirements:
- If you are not currently covered by the DSRA-BT plans offered by BCBSM you can apply during this window for an effective date of September 1, 2015, for the DSRA-BT medical, dental and vision plan coverages.
- If you are currently enrolled in a DSRA-BT plan today, you may change your coverage. For example, transfer from Copper, Bronze or Silver plan to the Gold plan. Or, if you do not have dental or vision, you may apply at this time. (Note that dental &/or vision is not covered by the HCTC unless you choose the Gold plan.)
What is not impacted by this Special Open Enrollment opportunity:
- Post-65 coverage for medical insurance (Hartford/Rx plan)
- Term Life Insurance
- Your DSRA-BT subsidy: If you are currently enrolled in one of our plans and receiving a DSRA-BT subsidy, this will continue regardless of the plan you choose at least until the end of this year. There will be no DSRA-BT subsidy granted this calendar year to those who are newly entering or re-entering the DSRA-BT plans.
Please note: If you are signing up for new or enhanced coverage, you will be responsible for the entire premium amount until the IRS sets up the Advance Payment option. This could take up to one year. You will recoup the HCTC amount (72.5% of the premium) through your tax return. Again, those who are currently receiving a DSRA-BT subsidy will continue to receive that amount until at least the end of 2015.
If you are a current participant in a DSRA-BT medical plan and are moving to an enhanced plan, please pay the increased amount beginning with your September payment. BCBSM has informed us that their invoice will lag by one month.
Please note that this Special Open Enrollment is only for the remainder of the 2015 calendar year. We will be offering our normal Open Enrollment for 2016 this fall.
We WILL NOT be mailing communications through the U.S. mail to current or previous members due to the short timeframe we are working with on this Special Open Enrollment.
If you know of anyone who is eligible and might be interested and is not registered with the DSRA or the DSRA-BT, please feel free to forward this communication to them.
DSRA-BT Board of Directors
Published: 14 July 2015
Last Updated: 14 July 2015
As previously announced, the HCTC has been passed into law. The DSRA Benefit Trust Board of Directors would like to take this opportunity to give our thanks to the HCTC Reinstatement Committee for their unending optimism, hard work, and diligence.
While the VEBA board had two members on this team, DSRA members on the committee, many who will gain nothing from this watershed law, did the vast majority of the heavy lifting. The contacts they made with congressional staffers and lawmakers was instrumental in getting this legislation introduced and passed.
Please take a moment to personally thank these folks:
Without them, we would not be celebrating this fantastic victory! Stay tuned for more information from the DSRA-BT board. We will be posting and e-blasting some initial FAQ’s shortly.
Published: 12 July 2015
Last Updated: 12 July 2015
The following op-ed is authored by Senator Rob Portman, (R-OH), one of DSRA’s strongest Congressional supporters and leaders in helping restore the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC). The piece appears in the Warren, Ohio, TRIBUNE CHRONICLE and on its website. Although this op-ed focuses on Ohio, it reaffirms the positive outcome all DSRA members achieved by working with their respective legislators on this issue.
DSRA members: If not already done, please take time to thank your Senators and Representative for their support in getting the HCTC reinstated.
Here is what Senator Portman wrote:
“Getting Results for Delphi Retirees and Families
In the summer of 2009, as part of the bankruptcy of General Motors, over 20,000 salaried retirees from Delphi, an auto parts maker, saw deep cuts in their pensions and retiree health care plans. They had earned these benefits, were depending on them, and losing them has made it extremely difficult for families to make ends meet. No state was more affected than Ohio.
Many of these former employees dedicated their careers to Delphi, embodying the spirit of the American middle-class worker, making their company a strong pillar in Ohio's economy. They were salespeople and shop floor supervisors, engineers and office managers, secretaries and technicians, and they came from places like Youngstown, Dayton, Columbus, and Sandusky. Hard work and dedication were always part of their daily routine, but struggling to pay for basic health care coverage was never part of their retirement planning.
I have met with a lot of Delphi retirees over the past five years, listened to their stories, and helped where I could. Sadly, some have faced bankruptcies, foreclosures, and family breakups due to the unexpected financial stress. Others have suffered with medical issues while battling mounting bills. These are not abstract issues, they are real problems affecting real Ohioans.
Mary Miller, a former HR manager from Dayton who spent over 30 years working for Delphi and GM, shared her concerns when testifying to Congress about what happened. She talked about her loss of earned benefits and an “ongoing struggle to pay routine bills.”
Until last year, when it expired, many families at least had a Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) making it easier to obtain affordable health care coverage. When the HCTC expired, the situation got worse for thousands of former employees, with many seeing up to 50 percent of their remaining pensions going towards rising health care premiums. When HCTC expired, some in Washington, D.C. considered it a minor policy lapse that wasn’t a big deal. But after hearing first-hand of the struggles former Delphi employees are experiencing, I knew it was a huge problem for them, and I was committed to helping.
Fortunately, over the last week the Senate passed and the president signed legislation I authored, that will bring an important victory for Delphi retirees with the extension of the HCTC as part of the broader Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation. This tax credit provided temporary financial relief for Ohioans like Mary until they were eligible for benefits through Medicare, but that has not been the case since it expired. That is about to change.
The extension of the HCTC passed this week will help thousands of retirees more easily access necessary health care coverage by lessening the impact of soaring costs. This was common sense legislation and I was happy to lead this bipartisan effort in the Senate with Sen. Sherrod Brown. In the House, Rep. Mike Turner took the lead. We worked with a unified and constructive group of Delphi retirees who gave us the information we needed to be effective.
Getting their HCTC back in place won’t fix all the problems of the past for the thousands of Ohio families affected, but it will offer some needed relief now and into the future.“
Published: 26 June 2015
Last Updated: 26 June 2015
HCTC Update- Final
Friday, June 26, 2015
TAA with HCTC Provision Passes in the House!
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, yesterday, June 25, 2015, passed, 286 to138, the reauthorization of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) with the provision for reinstating the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC).
In other words:
The HCTC will be reinstated!
Background: Our previous posting reported that TAA was removed from a trade package being considered in the House, attached to another piece of legislation and sent to the Senate for debate and vote. The Senate voted affirmatively on that legislation on Wednesday, June 24, and sent the bill back to the House, where it passed yesterday with the HCTC provision included. The legislation has been sent to the President’s desk for signature.
The HCTC provision calls for a six-year extension, retroactive to January 1, 2014 and carrying through to December 31, 2019, at a 72.5 percent credit level.
Next steps? The VEBA Benefit Trust folks will take over communications from this point on. In e-mails and postings on this site, they will keep you informed about HCTC eligibility requirements, upcoming enrollment dates with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and other pertinent information. Their ability to share information with you will be determined by how quickly the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets up the mechanism to administer the HCTC.
In the meantime, please take a moment to send a thank you to your respective Senator and Congressperson for their affirmative vote on TAA/HCTC.
And, on that note: Thanks to all of you, our DSRA members, for supporting efforts to get the HCTC reinstated. It’s been bumpy ride for two years with many twists and turns. But, we all stuck with it. Our patience, persistence and hard work finally paid off! Congratulations to everyone.
Please continue checking this VEBA website for updates on next steps for the HCTC. We know that there are many questions you have and as soon as answers are available, the VEBA-BT team will communicate with you on this site and through e-mail distributions.
We are pleased to sign off on this final communication with a success that belongs to all of us…..
Your DSRA HCTC Reinstatement Committee
Tom Green, Chair (OH)
Den Black (VA)
Fred Arndt (MI)
Louise Belline (NY)
Sharon Delezenne (MI)
Ken Garber (FL)
Bruce Gump (OH)
Jim Herbert (IN)
Elaine Hofius (PA)
Mary Ann Hudzik (OH)
Jim Johnson (MS)
Mike McCurdy (OH)
Gil Putt (WI)
Published: 03 June 2015
Last Updated: 03 June 2015
The board of the DSRA-BT would like to let you know that we recently changed our insurance broker from First Person Advisors to the Lawley Group. This change was driven by two factors; first our continuing drive to reduce administrative cost and secondly, the desire to get a fresh perspective on the rapidly changing healthcare marketplace. We are happy to announce that this change will save the Trust $64,500 over the next year and $72,000 the following year.
First Person was a great partner and helped us navigate through some rough patches. Our needs have changed and we look forward to working with The Lawley Group going forward.