(03/21/2011)
Once again, the West Virginia Legislature failed to address a massive $8 billion unfunded liability for future health-care costs for retired public school and state employees.

Not unlike many other critical matters affecting the state, the legislative body waited until the midnight hour to kill efforts to begin fixing the OPED problem.

Following the bills defeat, the familiar finger pointing began.

Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, said he was disappointed in House leaders for not allowing the bill to get to a House-Senate conference committee.

One of the proposals was to use funds from the state's rainy day fund to start paying off the huge liability.

"The Rainy Day fund is a fund of last resort," McCabe said. "It's not a last resort when the actuary says we can make this work without using Rainy Day funds."

The Senate plan would have maintained the same caps in premium increases for PEIA active employee and retirees as the House proposal, but would take about two years longer to completely retire the debt, in 2029 instead of 2027.

Without the OPEB legislation, McCabe says that soaring health-care costs will quickly exceed the state's ability to fund the PEIA retiree subsidy.


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