(07/31/2009)
The national healthcare crisis continues to hit West Virginia, a half-million that are already uninsured.

While the discussion continues in Washington about health coverage, WV's PEIA board, for a second time, has voted to eliminate retiree health benefits for future state and public school employees.

This time the vote includes a six-month delay before the cuts take effect.

The future benfit leaves a $7 billion unfunded liability to fund the health plan, that will grow to an $18 billion deficit by 2030 if the benefit is not eliminated.

The PEIA board voted again to eliminate retiree health-care subsidies for all employees hired after July 1, 2010, saying the cost of such benefits are beyond the ability to fund the system.

Board member Mike Smith said the state has no choice but to stop subsidizing retiree health coverage.

"There's not a prayer in Hades that West Virginia is going to be able to afford that," Smith said.

WV's public employees and teachers are expressing dismay, with at least one teacher's union saying it will file suit - the West Virginia Federation of Teachers.

The PEIA board is joining hundreds of small and large businesses who can no longer afford to pay health insurance benefits for their employees.


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