PEIA board OKs $40M cuts in benefits

By Phil Kabler, Charleston Gazette Staff Writer

State and public school employees and retirees in West Virginia will pay about $40 million more for health care next year, after the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board approved a series of benefit cuts Thursday primarily involving higher co-pays and deductibles.

After approving the cuts, effective July 1, 2015, board members voted to send a letter to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and all members of the Legislature urging them to come up with funding in the 2015-16 state budget to offset the cuts.

"Clearly, the primary reason we're here today making these dreadful decisions is because we've gone several years without additional employers' moneys," said Josh Sword, who represents education employees on the board.

Representatives of the two major teacher unions spoke out against the benefit cuts, which they said, combined with low salaries, will make it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain qualified teachers.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said it is unfair for PEIA to force employees and retirees to bear the entire burden of making up the budget deficit.

"All the costs are being borne on the back of the employee," he said, adding, "With $30 million this year, and what I've heard is $80 million next year, the employee can't bear all the cost."

ACTUAL CUTS LISTED PEIA board OKs $40M cuts in benefits By Phil Kabler for the Charleston Gazette

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