(12/12/2006)
Retired West Virginia public employees are under the hammer for reduced health benefits promised them.

Public workers and school teachers are protesting proposed changes in the state's PEIA health insurance program.

This group joins millions of retired Americans who are facing reduced benefits, and in many cases in the private sector, have actually been eliminated.

Nearly 50 million Americans have no healthcare coverage.

Union officials say sick and elderly WV retirees will suffer under the proposed changes.

The changes, which would cut coverage, is aimed at reducing a looming eight billion-dollar liability from health care benefits promised to public workers.

The change would increase out-of-pocket and co-payment expenses, while also reducing coverage for PEIA enrollees who have Medicare.

Retired Logan County schoolteacher Fred White says higher co-payments would be a burden for elderly and chronically ill retirees because they require more doctor's visits and prescriptions than healthy retirees.

The State of WV is also facing billions of dollars of unfunded debt in state retirement programs.


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