15 May 2009

Lawsuit Promised Over PEIA Move

West Virginia will stop subsidizing health care for public retirees, starting with those hired after this year, a move met by calls for a legal challenge, The Associated Press reports.

"American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia President Judy Hale vowed to sue following the vote by the finance board for the Public Employees Insurance Agency," the article said.

“It’s one of the things that helps us recruit teachers, retain teachers,” Hale told AP. “It’s outrageous in light of teacher shortages ... We will settle this in court.”

The board had held an emergency meeting "to respond to recent announcements from the private insurer now overseeing retiree coverage," the article explains. The board voted to move those 35,000 retirees back into its main program if it cannot find a new provider to continue its Medicare Advantage plan.

To cover the costs of such a transfer, "
PEIA will raid an already inadequate trust fund meant to provide non-pension benefits to future retirees," AP reports. But Matt Turner, spokesman for Gov. Joe Manchin, and PEIA officials "both predicted the subsidy’s end will gradually, and perhaps greatly, reduce the cost to the trust fund from future employees."

Others with coverage include The Charleston Gazette and MetroNews.

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