Public employees objecting to proposed benefits cuts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A group of teachers, public employees and retirees in West Virginia is objecting to proposed health insurance benefits cuts.

The group expressed its concerns Wednesday evening to the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board at the last of five public hearings on the latest proposed cuts, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports .

The proposals include shrinking the agency’s salary-based premium scale from 10 tiers to three and changing family coverage from a flat rate to a pay-by-person charge.

Fred Albert, president of the Kanawha County branch of the American Federation of Teachers, was among many speakers who said the proposals would hurt young teachers and employees at the bottom of salary scales.

One proposal calculates premiums based on household income rather than the employee’s salary. Agency executive director Ted Cheatham has advocated using family income to determine premiums, suggesting the agency subsidizes many high-paid private sector professionals who are on their spouse’s plans. Under that proposal, employees won’t be required to disclose their spouse’s income but will be placed in the highest premium tier unless they provide the information.

Board members will have a final vote Dec. 7 on the 2018-19 plan. Barring any revisions by the legislature during the 2018 regular session, it will go into effect for active employees on July 1, 2018.

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