CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday in Charleston to take a vote on the proposal to freeze health insurance premiums and benefits for state workers for the next 17 months while a permanent funding fix is explored.

Mike McCullough/WV MetroNews

The crowd last week at Tamarack Conference Center in Beckley for the PEIA public hearing.

Large crowds filled with teachers and other public employees turned out for three public hearings on the plan last week.

The freeze will cost the state $29 million. The House of Delegates passed a bill last Friday to fund the freeze with money from the Rainy Day Fund.

According to House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson (R-Kanawha), a message is being sent to the finance board.

“It’s basically telling the board that we are committed that there be no change in PEIA levels for the next year—that everything would stay the same,” Nelson said.

He added a task force would soon begin discussing a permanent funding solution.

Delegate Brent Boggs (D-Braxton) said the House’s move wouldn’t be worth much if the next steps aren’t taken.

“It’s a hollow victory if we don’t move on from this and promptly fix PEIA and not just put a band-aid on it,” Boggs said.

Delegate Marshall Wilson (R-Berkeley) said the non-public employee taxpayers also need to be remembered in the process.

“Every dime we put into there comes from a taxpayer’s pocket,” Wilson said. “Not only that, but the taxpayers are paying increased medical costs. They’re paying increased costs for their insurance as well and we’ve got to balance that fix with the fact that the people that are paying for it are paying much more.

The emergency meeting of the PEIA Finance Board begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Charleston.

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