PEIA holds public hearing on proposed changes

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     A controversial health care change has public employees up in arms. State employees joined together tonight to protest their health benefits.The PEIA, which is the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, has proposed to raise co-pays, deductibles, and prescription costs to make up for the lack of funds. The changes would take place in 2017.
     Thursday, November 12, 2015, a public hearing was held at the Tamarack to allow the community to voice their opinions on the proposed plan. Every seat in the meeting was full and people even lined the walls in the back. People at the meeting came from all different lines of work, some were teachers, other were DOH workers, but they all seemed to agree on one thing, that the lack of funds shouldn’t just fall on the shoulders of state employees.
     Steve Bailey, who is the Region 5 Director of the West Virginia Association of Retired School Employees, shares how this is going to affect retirees, “Most of our members have not had any kind of raises for many many years, if ever. They cannot afford it, it’s as simple as that. They are wanting to increase our premiums 8%, we cannot afford 8% increases on our premiums. A teacher who spoke at the public hearing says if we don’t offer better incentives were not going to have any teachers in the mountain state, “Less and less young people are going into education, less and less people are going into the profession, and if they are, they are going out of state where the pay and benefits are way better than they are here.”
     Over 40 people spoke at the hearing.  PEIA led the meeting saying that this is hurting them to, but they unfortunately have to make cuts somewhere. Many of the people at the hearing suggest that the solution is to raise taxes on things such as tobacco.  If you didn’t get to make it to the hearing and would like to comment on the proposed plan you can send an email to PEIA.Help@wv.gov

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