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PEIA hearing on benefit cuts draws worried crowd

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The first of six Public Employees Insurance Agency public hearings across the state sounded more like a vibrant union meeting at times as the agency plans on cutting health care benefits by $40 million next year.

Monday night in Beckley more than 150 active state employees and retirees filled one of Tamarack’s conference rooms.

PEIA Executive Director Ted Cheatham asked members to submit surveys on where they would prefer the cuts made. As the plan stands, $30 million in benefits would need to be cut from active employees, $4 million from Medicare recipients, $4.5 million from retirees younger than 65, and $3 million for non-state employees covered by PEIA.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee told PEIA representatives they are asking members to make choices when there are no good options.

“What choice is there? Paying more or receiving less. Choosing between a litany of bad choices is not an option…

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