Want Expert Benefits Advice? Get a FREE Benefits Review with a Skilled AMBA Agent

Though friends and family can be helpful when considering benefits options, there’s no substitute for the expert benefit advice of an agent through NCRGEA and AMBA.

You’re Unique. So Are Your Benefits Needs.

AMBA and NCRGEA offer high-quality, comprehensive insurance plans at affordable rates with benefits you’ll love. AMBA’s robust portfolio of A-rated insurance products helps thousands of people enjoy well-being and security. The many policies available through AMBA and NCRGEA include dental, vision, long-term care, and Medicare Advantage plans, and many other important coverages.* 

Along with these vital benefits, AMBA agents can help you fill the gaps and get the right insurance portfolio for you. AMBA knows it can be challenging to see if you’ve overlooked important benefits. AMBA agents are compassionate and highly trained. With their expertise and knowledge, AMBA agents can answer your questions, provide insightful recommendations tailored to your needs, and ensure you have all the coverage you should.

NCRGEA’s trusted benefits partner, AMBA looks forward to helping you live your best life and enjoy peace of mind. AMBA is here to help you review your options and determine the right coverage for you— dental insurance, vision plans, life insurance, emergency medical transportation plans, and other essential policies. It’s nice to know someone can assist you anytime you have questions about your insurance benefits.

Request a FREE Benefits Review at Amba-review.com/NCRGEA or call 800-956-1228 Mon-Fri 9am-6pm ET.

*See plans for details.

Sandy and Ellie’s Excellent Adventure:

Spring Edition 2024 | Living Power Magazine

AMBA adventure story

Who doesn’t love a heartwarming, inspiring story? Our friends at AMBA share the tale of Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hambry. These two friends wanted to do something special to celebrate their 80th birthdays. When Sandy proposed a unique adventure for their milestones, Ellie was immediately thrilled with the idea: to travel the world in 80 days for their 80th birthday.

Starting Their Journey

The two met in Zambia 23 years ago while on a medical mission. They have been sharing journeys and adventures ever since. This special one commenced on January 11, 2023. First stop: Antarctica.

In a mere 80 days, their itinerary allowed the two to experience the northern lights of Lapland at the North Pole, a sleigh ride pulled by huskies in Finland, a hot air balloon ride in Egypt, camel rides in the deserts of Africa, the awesome ancient structures of Rome, a two-day ship ride across the treacherous Drake Passage where 20-foot waves rocked their boat, and a search for wallabies in Australia.

The two documented their journey on their social media platforms and quickly gained thousands of affectionate and amazed followers. Many—including a fan in Rwanda and another in Colorado—invited them to visit them and stay at their homes. As the Rwandan wrote, “You 2 are amazing!”

Sandy laughs when recalling her family’s reaction to their social media popularity. Her grandchildren would comment on her social media updates, “There’s my grandmother having fun!”

“We’re not wanting our comfort zone. We want an adventure,” Ellie explained. “We were together 24/7 for 80 days and it’s made us even closer than we were.”

The two enjoyed their travels so much that they’re even planning another. Sandy revealed, “We are planning another trip! We’ve got some ideas about where we’re going and what we’re going to do, so you just need to stay tuned for the next adventure because it’s going to happen!”

Whether you’re planning on traveling with your bestie or staying close to home, our friends at AMBA have an amazing program for NCRGEA members. AMBA Discounts provides amazing savings for you on everything from travel, car rentals, hotels, clothing, dining, jewelry, electronics, and more. Best of all, your membership is absolutely FREE! Start saving today—visit PassportCorporate.com now! NCRGEA members can get your Passport access code by calling our office at 919-834-4652.

CenterWell is Senior-Focused Health Care

By Gregory Lavins, MD | CenterWell Senior Primary Care Roxboro

Spring 2024 | Living Power Magazine

Gregory Lavins

I care for a patient who is a lifelong smoker and never had a lung cancer screening, fearing that the screening would lead to unexpected bills and hospital charges. I spent a great deal of time with her, explaining the importance of the screening and collaborating with my care team to ensure a smooth process and cost transparency. As a result, we discovered a small lung cancer in its early and treatable stage. Having that time and those meaningful conversations prevented further progression of a potentially fatal disease. That’s a level of care I’m proud of and for which my patients are grateful.

This is possible, thanks to the senior-focused care model at CenterWell Senior Primary Care where I practice medicine.

America is a rapidly aging nation. By 2034, there will be an estimated 77 million Americans aged 65 years or older. For the first time in the country’s history, older adults will outnumber children. It’s the same in North Carolina, where we are 8th in the United States in number of people 65 and older. In 2020, one in six North Carolinians was 65 and older, and by 2031, there will be more people 65 and older in our state than children.

As our older population grows, so do their age-related medical needs, which necessitates a new approach to health care.

CenterWell Senior Primary Care is Value-Based Care

CenterWell Senior Primary Care’s value-based care model is whole-person health care that emphasizes quality of care and health improvements. This plus our focus on preventive care to get and keep patients as healthy as possible is shown to reduce hospitalizations and emergency room visits for seniors.

CenterWell physicians are specially trained to treat seniors and work as part of a multidisciplinary team that includes social workers, pharmacists, nurse care coordinators, referral coordinators, and behavioral health specialists, who together help care for the patient’s physical and mental health.

It’s a comprehensive, team-based approach that not only treats the patient’s medical needs, but also the underlying issues affecting their health. While today’s seniors enjoy longer, more independent lives, most are living with multiple chronic health conditions. Nearly 80% of older adults have two or more ongoing health problems and almost all take a prescription drug, with nearly 40% regularly using five different medications.

Giving seniors the time and attention they deserve

CenterWell Senior Primary Care’s centers give doctors more time to spend with patients—up to 50% more time than typical providers. Getting to the root causes of patients’ individual situations often requires time to engage and reach a level of comfort where they are able to share and open up about the challenges they face.

CenterWell’s care team model empowers us to tackle the everyday challenges our patients encounter. It prioritizes the personal interactions between physicians and patients that enable us to build trusting relationships. Because I have extra time with patients, I’m able to understand them on a deeper level and tailor care to their unique needs. This personalized approach fosters better patient engagement and, ultimately, leads to more successful outcomes.

Providing more than medical care

Centerwell front desk

Addressing senior health also requires examining emotional concerns and socioeconomic factors. For older patients, attending to basic everyday needs and emotional concerns can be just as vital as treating their medical conditions. In fact, there’s strong evidence that people’s financial resources and living environment have even more of an impact on the state of their health than the medical treatment they receive. That’s especially true for older adults who live on a fixed income and have multiple health problems.

The care teams at CenterWell work to address any socioeconomic factors that may be impacting seniors’ wellbeing, including emotional, cognitive, and nutritional issues, as well as physical limitations.

There are more than 16.5 million American seniors who struggle financially, and many are food insecure. This unfortunate reality increases their risk for a number of serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. To improve the lives of older adults, it’s imperative we address these social determinants of health, such as food or housing insecurity and lack of access to transportation, along with mental health concerns.

The combination of these factors can add up to a complicated health picture requiring the kind of personalized medical care that we offer at CenterWell Senior Primary Care. Senior-focused primary care is CenterWell’s approach to providing the health care that seniors need to help them lead their healthiest lives possible. It’s what made all the difference for my patient with lung cancer.

Centerwell team

NCRGEA Lunch and Learn Webinar: August 2024

August 14 @ 12:30 pm 1:30 pm

Free virtual webinar Lunch & Learn Series: “Passport Savings,” presented by member benefits group, AMBA.

Registration by Friday | August 9 is required for this FREE event.

If you have any questions, please email info@NCRGEA.com or phone 919.834.4652.

Previous NCRGEA Lunch and Learn Series recordings can be found on our YouTube channel.

(919) 834-4652

View Organizer Website

FREE

INSIDE NCRGEA’s Advocacy Goals

Spring 2024 Living Power Magazine

NC Legislature

Each year, NCRGEA develops a set of legislative or advocacy goals that guide the work of the Association in the General Assembly and with the Pension Systems’ Board of Trustees.

“While we don’t have a formal process for gathering information from our members, an important part of this process is listening to what our members say,” said Linda Suggs, chairperson of NCRGEA’s Government Relations Committee.
This input, combined with advice from the Association’s lobbyists, is the basis for the initial draft of the annual goals.

“Our lobbyists give the Government Relations Committee a draft of goals based on the key issues the General Assembly will be dealing with in the up-coming session,” explained Suggs. “We take a hard look at those, review what our members have said, and then forward to the Executive Committee a second draft. They edit that if they see fit, and forward their draft to the Board of Directors for final approval.”

Each member of NCRGEA’s Board is a retired state or local government employee, and they, like its members, are concerned about having a strong, stable pension system that its members can count on. “NCRGEA does not rank its goals, but getting a true COLA for state and local government retirees is always its number one priority,” says Suggs. “Keeping the pension system strong is right behind it.”

NCRGEA has many active programs and processes in place to achieve its annual goals, but to be even more effective, the Association needs the voice of its members to be heard in the General Assembly.

“We really need our members to be involved with the issues we are trying to achieve,” said Suggs. “One of the most important things is, they have to know who their representatives are. You’d be surprised at how many people can’t tell you who represents them in the General Assembly. On the NCRGEA webpage under the “Advocacy” tab, there is the “Find my NC Legislator” link to give you that information.

The second thing is, meet them. When they’re campaigning, go and meet them, listen to what they are saying, ask questions and get to know them. Politics is all about relationships. Develop relationships early so that when crunch time comes, you can call on them, and they will know who you are.”

“Third, use the tools on NCRGEA’s website, such as FastDemocracy. This tool puts all the information you need about your legislators at your fingertips, including their voting history and the committees they serve on. The better you know your legislators, the more confidently and effectively you can discuss issues with them.”

FastDemocracy

FastDemocracy also helps NCRGEA mobilize its members with “call for action” messages. “When the Association sends a call for action, open up the email,” stressed Suggs. “It will have a message that NCRGEA has crafted on the specific issue. You can personalize it if you want, but you don’t have to. Just fill in the box with your name and email address, hit “send,” and it will automatically go to your representative in the General Assembly. It’s that easy.

“For NCRGEA members, one of the most important races is the race for State Treasurer,” says Suggs. “Our state is one of only three states where the State Treasurer has total control on how the money in our pension funds is handled. We need to know what candidates’ top priorities would be if elected.
Ask:

  • What they would do to make possible a COLA or bonus for members of TSERS and LGERS on a regular basis?
  • How they will protect and strengthen the pension system?

These are important questions for our next State Treasurer.

Lastly, be the first to congratulate the winner, even if you didn’t vote for them. Whether you voted for the winner or not, that person now will represent you in the General Assembly!

NCRGEA Advocacy Goals

1. Advocate for annual cost of living adjustments for all state and local government retirees.

2. Strengthen and protect the state’s defined benefit plan to attract and retain the best and brightest public servants.

3. Defend public sector benefits so all public sector retirees can participate in traditional retirement systems.

4. Ensure the State of North Carolina will continue to fulfill its constitutional and legal requirements to fully fund North Carolina Retirement Systems and the State Health Plan.

5. Expand the Bailey tax exemption to all state and local retirees and pursue other tax exemption opportunities for government retirees.


For more information
on NCRGEA’s advocacy goals and how to assist the Association in obtaining them, watch our February 7 Lunch and Learn webinar on our YouTube channel.

North Carolina General Assembly Legislative Update: May 30, 2024

by NCRGEA Lobbyist Jessica Proctor

2024 Legislative Update

Legislators began the week with a busy three days of committee meetings and votes. The week stalled abruptly due to the death of Rick Moore, a King’s Mountain councilman and father to House Speaker Tim Moore. The Senate held committee meetings Tuesday but canceled meetings Wednesday and Thursday, as the late Mr. Moore’s funeral was held Wednesday, May 29. The House canceled its week Tuesday, including voting sessions previously scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.

COLAs

Currently, there are three bills appropriating both a percentage cost of living adjustment (COLA) and a lump sum appropriation. SB 805 and House companion bill 934, “Make State Employment Great Again”, has a one-time, $100,000,000 bonus line item for retirees S805v1.pdf (ncleg.gov); H934v1.pdf (ncleg.gov). House Bill 930 H930v1.pdf (ncleg.gov) provides a 3 percent recurring adjustment for both state and local retirees, with a total price tag of $231,000,000. All three bills have passed first reading and are currently scheduled in the respective chamber’s rules committees.

Other Bills Affecting Retirees

Last week, three bills pertaining to retirees passed two committees and the House, with one sent to the Senate by special messenger. Two of the bills were technical. The other, HB 1020, Retirement Administrative Changes Act of 2024, has varied changes in current retirement policy. This includes expanding eligibility for participation in the state’s supplemental retirement plan (401k), tightening penalties for employers that submit late contributions, and ending retirement payments for persons also receiving subsequent severance.

In its original form, Section V of the bill pertained to tightening payroll and pension deduction requirements for both retiree and active associations, sunsetting groups that had: a) membership of less than 2,000 and b) had not deducted in December 2023. The NCRGEA Government Relations team and others worked together to have this language stricken from the bill. The bill is now in Rules and Operations and its latest edition may be found here: H1020v3.pdf (ncleg.gov).

House Bill 237, “Unmask Mobs and Criminals,” dramatically changed form from its original House version, only to have the House non-concur when the bill returned from Senate passage. While many provisions of the bill returned masking policy back to pre-COVID status, opponents of the bill say the bill reaches too far, restricting masks for persons with health issues. The bill is now considered dead, with opposition from both parties.

Another healthcare bill passed the Senate Healthcare Committee recently, and now rests in Senate Finance. HB 681: Healthcare Flexibility Act H681v2.pdf (ncleg.gov) originally passed the House in 2023 with unanimous, bipartisan support. Its latest version includes revised physician interstate licensure compact language and adds other healthcare policy priorities of the Senate.

These include:

• Ability for nurse practitioners with 4,000 hours of practice experience to be eligible to apply for full practice authority.
• Prohibition of facility fees for treatments performed in a non-hospital setting.

While running skeletal sessions for the remainder of the week, the legislature will fully return Monday, June 3.

To learn more, use the NCRGEA Bill Tracker powered by FastDemocracy.

Local Outreach: District 6 @ Albemarle NC

July 23 @ 1:30 pm 2:30 pm

NCRGEA is inviting all retirees from public service, both state and local, to join us for refreshments and a discussion of issues that affect public service retirees of North Carolina.

We’ll talk about current legislative issues, retiree issues, and retirement benefits available to all public service retirees.

This is a great opportunity to meet and speak with other retirees who share the same concerns you have and to talk to Josephine, Outreach Coordinator at NCRGEA, with your questions.

Registration is FREE: Click on the button at the top or use this link.

Location:

Stanly County Public Library | 133 East Main St | Albemarle NC 28001

Other Questions? Call 919-834-4652 or email Josephine@NCRGEA.com.

Free

(919) 834-4652

View Organizer Website

Local Outreach: District 3 @ Lexington NC

July 17 @ 1:30 pm 2:30 pm

NCRGEA is inviting all retirees from public service, both state and local, to join us for refreshments and a discussion of issues that affect public service retirees of North Carolina.

We’ll talk about current legislative issues, retiree issues, and retirement benefits available to all public service retirees.

This is a great opportunity to meet and speak with other retirees who share the same concerns you have and to talk to Josephine, Outreach Coordinator at NCRGEA, with your questions.

Registration is FREE: Click on the button at the top or use this link.

Location:

Lexington Public Library | 602 S Main Street | Lexington NC 27292

Other Questions? Call 919-834-4652 or email Josephine@NCRGEA.com.

Free

(919) 834-4652

View Organizer Website

Local Outreach: District 3 @ Winston-Salem NC

July 10 @ 1:30 pm 2:30 pm

NCRGEA is inviting all retirees from public service, both state and local, to join us for refreshments and a discussion of issues that affect public service retirees of North Carolina.

We’ll talk about current legislative issues, retiree issues, and retirement benefits available to all public service retirees.

This is a great opportunity to meet and speak with other retirees who share the same concerns you have and to talk to Josephine, Outreach Coordinator at NCRGEA, with your questions.

Registration is FREE: Click on the button at the top or use this link.

Location:

Senior Services | 2895 Shorefair Dr NW | Winston-Salem NC 27105

Other Questions? Call 919-834-4652 or email Josephine@NCRGEA.com.

Free

(919) 834-4652

View Organizer Website

Local Outreach: District 9 @ Whiteville NC

June 17 @ 10:30 am 11:30 am

NCRGEA is inviting all retirees from public service, both state and local, to join us for refreshments and a discussion of issues that affect public service retirees of North Carolina.

We’ll talk about current legislative issues, retiree issues, and retirement benefits available to all public service retirees.

This is a great opportunity to meet and speak with other retirees who share the same concerns you have and to talk to Josephine, Outreach Coordinator at NCRGEA, with your questions.

Registration is FREE: Click on the button at the top or use this link.

Location:

Whiteville Senior Center | 827 Washington St | Whiteville NC 28472

Other Questions? Call 919-834-4652 or email Josephine@NCRGEA.com.

Free

(919) 834-4652

View Organizer Website