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WV PEIA is ‘fixed,’ senator says after employee rally

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With less than half the legislative session to go, public employees held a press conference Monday telling lawmakers they want action on the $120 million PEIA deficit, but Sen. Mike Hall, R-Putnam, the Senate’s Finance Chair, said the fix is in the governor’s budget, and all the Legislature has to do is pass it.

The Public Employees Insurance Agency is the health care plan for all state workers, including teachers.

“What’s going on right now is unprecedented,” said Josh Sword, secretary-treasurer of the West Virginia AFL-CIO and a member of the PEIA board. “We’ve heard different rumors as to why they haven’t talked about it. Regardless, they haven’t talked about it.”

Sword said the PEIA board adopted two plans for 2017 in December, but had to scrap those figures when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced his plans to supplement the PEIA deficit with $43 million to be raised from an increase on the sales tax on tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

He said the Legislature has two options in order to fill in the $120 million hole that affects the health care plans of some 220,000 West Virginians — raise revenue or find the money in the state’s already strained budget that itself has a $354 million gap in this fiscal year.

“PEIA is fixed,” Hall said. “All we have to do is pass the budget. It is funded…

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