buttons
NRLN Home Page Sign Up to Receive Important Messages
or Update Your Email Address
Contribute
to the NRLN
Write Personal Email to
Your Members of Congress
Respond to an
ACTION ALERT

Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Coalition (TVARC) Executive Committee Members
(click on names for biographical info)
Dan Pitts - danpitts99@gmail.com Les Bayslpbays1@yahoo.com
Bob Taylor - retaylorxtva@gmail.com Barry Gorebarrygore@gmail.com

Members of the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Coalition are encouraged to email the NRLN-TVARC sample letter to your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators to urge them to place the TVA pension plan under the rules of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to better protect our pensions.

View Archived Communications Here


Messages from the President

To: NRLN TVA Retirees Chapter Members
Subject: Medicare Advantage and Medigap Plans

You may have read the June 9 NRLN President Bill Kadereit Forum message that announce the completion a new NRLN whitepaper on Medicare Advantage (MA). To access the whitepaper, click on the Legislative Agenda tab on the NRLN home page, select whitepapers and scroll down to MEDICARE ADVANTAGE QUALITY BONUS PLAN IS A HOUSE OF CARDS.

The NRLN's primary concern has always been for its members and all seniors who see the TV commercials about MA plans and good deals that are "FREE." Implying that Medicare Part A & B premiums and benefits are free is misleading since whether you stay with original Medicare Part A & B or buy a private MA plan to get A & B benefits we get all Part A benefits as we have prepaid the 1.45% premium tax on wages over our lifetime and we all must pay the Medicare Part B premium of $145.60 a month. Nothing free here!

Regrettably, our income tax dollars subsidize private MA insurance companies with bonuses and rebates that fund reduced deductibles, copays, costs in excess of out-of-pocket maximums and may pay for drug, dental and vision plans and for Silver Sneakers memberships. These rebates amount to $126 a month for every MA plan enrollee. In 2020, cost sharing and chronic benefit costs will be $35 billion and MA plan cost per enrollee will be higher than in original Medicare!

The 44 million in original Medicare and all others paying income taxes also pay for MA plan new "chronic" benefits for the 26 million MA enrollees that are denied to the other 44 million original Medicare beneficiaries. The NRLN is advocating this is unfair, discriminatory. All Medicare enrollees should be eligible for approved original Medicare plan benefits.

The NRLN fully supports competition from private healthcare plans and understands the financial challenges ahead for Medicare and the federal budget. However, the NRLN lobbies against legislated subsidies and restrictions placed on original Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) just to preserve the notion that private insurance plans are more effective. Sooner or later these subsidies will dry up, causing insurers to abandon MA plans. The NRLN’s proposal includes “grandfathering” protection for those in MA HMO plans should this happen.

When talking with Bill, I told him about the research I had been doing into the way premiums are often increased for Medigap, which are original Medicare supplement plans intended to pay the 20 percent that Medicare does not pay for Medicare Part A and Part B. My concern is that a Medigap policy begins with a stated premium but the premium can be raised at any time. This often happens with months after the Medigap policy is issued. I know a number of TVA members have experienced this.

I want to let you know that Bill requested that I continue my research and develop a proposal for the NRLN Board’s consideration to take a position on this issue.

If you have a Medigap plan and experienced premium increases within a few months of acquiring your plan, I would like to hear from you. Let me know the provider of your Medigap plan, when you began paying the premium and how soon the premium was increased.

Dan Pitts, President
NRLN TVA Retirees Chapter
Email: danpitts99@gmail.com


Please make your annual Individual Membership contribution of $25, $50, $75 or more. Any amount you can contribute will be appreciated.

For your convenience you may make your contribution online with your credit card on the NRLN website by clicking here. Be sure to scroll down and select your affiliation as NRLN TVA Retirees Chapter. The transaction is through PayPal but you are not required to have a PayPal account to use your credit card. credit cards

You also have the option to send a check or money order payable to NRLN, Inc. and mail it to NRLN Inc., PO Box 69051, Baltimore, MD 21264-9051 with the Contribution Form printed here. Click here to print the Contribution Form.



TVA IN THE NEWS...


TVA, Trades and Labor employees thanked for keeping the lights on
From Keith McFarland & Marion Davis; Knox News ~ Sep 22, 2020

First TVA-Owned Battery Storage To Shape Energy Future
The Chattanoogan ~ Sep 21, 2020

TVA Recognized As A Top 10 Employer For Veterans In The Workforce
The Chattanoogan ~ Sep 10, 2020

Lawsuit challenges TVA’s anti-solar “never-ending contracts” with its utility customers
By William Driscoll; PV Magazine ~ Aug 21, 2020

TVA's biggest customer eyes split with federal utility; Memphis agrees to solicit power proposals to consider future options
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ Aug 19, 2020

TVA: New Solar Facility to Support Facebook Operations
By Michael Bates; Solar Industry ~ Aug 14, 2020

TVA Board to ask for written comments from the public starting Aug. 20. Officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority will start seeking comments from the public beginning Thursday, Aug. 20.
By “WBIR Staff”; WBIR ~ Aug 13, 2020

TVA restudies plans to cut IT staff through outsourcing after Trump issues order to limit foreign work
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ Aug 04, 2020

Trump ousts TVA board members over outsourcing jobs, targets CEO salary
By Jeff Mason & Andrea Shalal; Reuters ~ Aug 03, 2020

TVA joining with southern utilities in power alliance to capitalize on cheaper solar generation
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ Jul 20, 2020

Tennessee GM plant to lay off 680, end 3rd shift amid virus
The Associated Press ~ Jun 24, 2020

TVA To Redeem 1995 B Power Bonds
Via Tennessee Valley Authority; PR Newswire ~ Jun 15, 2020

TVA fights to keep its biggest customer as Memphis and other distributors eye split with utility
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ May 27, 2020

GM, TVA Partner to Transition Manufacturing Plant to Solar Energy
By Matthew Mercure; Solar Industry ~ May 18, 2020

TVA bonds sell at historically low rate of 0.75%
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ May 07, 2020

TVA To Reset 1998 Series D PARRS Power Bonds
Via Tennessee Valley Authority; PR Newswire ~ Apr 29, 2020

TVA makes $1BN credit line available to power companies affected by virus crisis
Author: WBIR Staff; 10 NEWS ~ Mar 26, 2020

Knoxville signs long term agreement with TVA
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ Mar 13, 2020

Federal regulators cite TVA for providing inaccurate info about Watts Bar problem
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times free Press ~ Mar 10, 2020

Tennessee lawmakers object to Trump's proposal to sell TVA transmission assets
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ Mar 05, 2020

TVA shuts down Watts Bar reactor, declares 'unusual event'
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ Feb 22, 2020

ORNL, TVA Sign Agreement to Collaborate on Advanced Reactor Technologies
From Oak Ridge National Laboratory; HPC ~ Feb 21, 2020

Trump revives plan to sell TVA transmission assets
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ Feb 13, 2020

TVA Takes Its Last Coal-Fired Unit Offline at Western Kentucky Power Plant
By Lisa Autry; WKYUFM ~ Feb 03, 2020

EPB signs 20-year power contract with TVA
By Dave Flessner; Chattanooga Times Free Press ~ Jan 24, 2020

TVA eyes building solar energy farm in north Alabama
By Paul Gattis; al.com ~ Jan 16, 2020

NRC says TVA can consider SMR nuclear energy site at Clinch River
Power Engineering ~ Dec 31, 2019


Concerns About Private Medicare Exchanges

Dan Pitts, the new President of the Tennessee Valley Authority Retirees Coalition (TVARC), an NRLN Chapter, has brought to my attention an issue that has affected TVA retirees’ selection of their Medigap (Medicare supplement) plans offered through a Private Medicare Exchange (PME). Companies use PMEs to move retirees from their group plan and into the individual Medicare market. This has caused me to wonder whether other NRLN grassroots advocates many have been similarly impacted by a PME.

Dan is requesting that you sign his online petition on this issue that will be sent to Congressional leaders and the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The NRLN has a brief survey for anyone who has had dealings with a PME to purchase their Medicare coverage and/or has a Medicare Advantage plan.

The petition is located here.

The NRLN survey is at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NRLNMED. Your input will help the NRLN determine whether there is a need to take action.

Dan has been trained and certified as a member of the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), a federally funded program administered by each state. Dan is empowered to assist Medicare beneficiaries to prevent, detect and report health care fraud, errors and abuse. Because Dan’s goal as a SMP volunteer is to ensure that all seniors receive accurate and complete information to make their Medicare choices and to report any cases of impropriety to Medicare, I take seriously his concerns about PMEs.

First, a little background about the PME situation with TVA retirees. TVA terminated retirees’ health coverage effective January 1, 2017 and contracted with a PME to help retirees find new Medicare insurance. In the fall of 2016, TVA retirees started looking at the Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans offered during transition to the PME. It turned out the most popular Medigap plan (Plan G) and the two insurers offered by the PME were 35-67% more expensive than buying coverage directly the insurers.

Retirees complained to TVA about the PME’s higher rates and TVA executives were surprised about the higher rates and challenged the PME about its high rates. The PME eventually admitted to TVA that many of its high-priced plans may carry the look and brand of major, well-established insurers, but the plans are really "separate legal entities" with rates based on different cost structures, resulting in much higher rates. The names of those insurers, their logos, plan descriptors, and plan benefits were used in the marketing and promotions material presented to TVA retirees.

Dan sent an email on December 6 to TVARC members whose email addresses are in the NRLN’s database. He cited an example of how much more expensive the two Medicare Plan G offerings were versus eight other plans

Dan noted that another issue relates to a very basic, but a very important, option available to retirees who have no serious pre-existing conditions. Healthier retirees have absolutely no need for the PME's high-priced "guaranteed issue" plans. Because of their better health, they would qualify to purchase any plan, not just guaranteed issue plans, from any insurer in their local market, many at very low rates. Some insurers will allow switching to a Medigap plan at any time, not just during open enrollment. Before changing plans, retirees should always make sure they will not be giving up any significant benefits such as healthcare subsidies or insurance for their under 65 spouses.

He said it is unclear why the PME chose not to disclose this information to TVA retirees. Also, it is troubling that the PME restricted its offerings for the highly popular Medigap Plan G to just two insurers and did not bring more competition into the offerings.

Dan made other good points that apply to anyone age 65 and older.

Medicare eligible seniors should not be afraid to inquire about changing plans, especially if they have no serious pre-existing condition,” Pitts said. For example, even if you have been treated for cancer and the disease has been in remission for a certain period, some insurers may be willing to provide you a new Medigap plan without imposing higher rates or waiting periods. As always, before changing plans, retirees should make sure they will not be giving up any benefits such as healthcare subsidies or insurance for their under age 65 spouses.

Dan pointed out the Medicare website at https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/when-can-i-buy-medigap/switching-medigap-policies provides information about Medigap plans. Another excellent source for advice on Medicare plans is offered by the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) that provides local, in-depth, and objective insurance counseling and assistance to Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers. The national SHIP website can be accessed at https://www.shiptacenter.org/.

Please take a few minutes to review and sign Dan’s petition. Also, please respond to the NRLN’s brief survey if you have had experience dealing with a PME and/or have a Medicare Advantage plan. It is voluntary whether you submit your name, email address and home address on the NRLN survey.

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network


  Suggestions and comments about this website should be addressed to webmaster@nrln.org
  Copyright 2012 September 26, 2020