20 November 2008

State Employees Balking at Insurance Hikes

Proposed rate increases and benefit cuts in their Public Employees Insurance Agency health coverage turned out more than 100 state workers, teachers and retirees against the changes at a Wednesday hearing, The Charleston Gazette reports.

"Public workers have been told for years that the benefits package is a trade-off for what is the lowest pay for public workers in the nation," union official Steve Thompson is quoted as telling representatives of the PEIA Finance Board. "This PEIA plan proposal is essentially docking the pay of public workers."

The Gazette explains that "as tentatively adopted by the PEIA Finance Board Nov. 6, the plan proposes a 9 percent increase in employee premiums as of July 1, 2009, to be followed by increases in excess of 10 percent each year for the following three years... Retirees would see an 11 percent premium increase in July, followed by larger increases for each of the following three years."

"Retirees, who made up a majority of the crowd, stressed that they are even less able to shallow an 11 percent premium hike, living on fixed incomes with no cost of living increases in their state pensions," The Gazette reported.

PEIA officials argue that "state employees have not had a premium increase in three years, although PEIA's medical and prescription drug costs have been increasing at a rate of about 7 percent a year," the article said.

Public Broadcasting
has a report on the proposal, with audio, while MetroNews also covered the Charleston hearing.

1 comment:

clear eyes said...

Insurance premiums should be based on the cost of the medical care being paid for - not on how much people can "shallow" on a "fixed income." My employer passes on increases in the cost of coverage to me. Why should I also be paying the increase in cost of state employees and retirees' coverage?