Teachers, state employees rail against proposed PEIA benefit cuts

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Teachers, state employees rail against proposed PEIA benefit cuts
By Eric Eyre, The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Jon Dodds doesn’t like the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency’s plan to cut state and school workers’ health insurance benefits by $25 million next year.

During the past week, Dodds, a network engineer at Fairmont State University, has crisscrossed the state, speaking against the proposed PEIA cuts. He has attended public hearings in five cities, driven 998 miles. Thursday night’s hearing at the University of Charleston was his final stop.

“I’m angry,” Dodds said. “I’m angry we’re here again.”

In the last of a series of statewide public meetings, teachers, retirees, state employees and union leaders told the PEIA Finance Board Thursday night that its proposal to cut benefits to cover higher-than-projected increases in prescription drug costs was a terrible idea.

“The increases in co-insurance, medical deductibles, out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs are totally unacceptable,” said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association. “We just continue to pile it on. We just can’t take it anymore.”

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