CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A vote to cut health insurance benefits for more than 200,000 public employees and retirees by more than $120 million next year was postponed Thursday — not by a last-minute reprieve, but by a clerical error.
Members of the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board were poised to proceed with approval of what PEIA Executive Director Ted Cheatham has called draconian cuts, but postponed the vote after they learned that notice of the meeting had not been published in the State Register, as required under state Open Meetings law.
Board members adjourned the meeting to 2 p.m. next Thursday, but Cheatham suggested that will only postpone the inevitable.
“We still have a $120 million deficit that has to be handled,” he said. “I don’t think we have any choice. The board’s hands are tied.”
With no additional state funding provided to offset increasing health care costs, and having spent down PEIA’s reserve fund over recent years, Cheatham said the Finance Board has no options but to cut benefits. The only proposal under consideration calls for steep increases in co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums for medical care, along with major increases in prescription drug costs.
Acting Administration Secretary Jason Pizatella, who serves as chairman of the Finance Board, said discussions at the Capitol are ongoing to find more state funding…