West Virginia OKs Public Health Plan Cuts Amid Budget Spat

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia anticipates larger cuts to state employee, teacher and retiree health plans as long as a state budget stalemate drags on.

On Wednesday, West Virginia’s Public Employee Insurance Agency Finance Board approved previous plans to cut $120 million from health plans.

The board originally passed the cuts in December, but largely eliminated them after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin proposed raising taxes on tobacco products and e-cigarettes to fuel the health plans.

But the Republican-led Legislature and Tomblin, a Democrat, have not yet reached a budget agreement. The House has resisted tax increases, including the tobacco tax.

The cuts would affect the 2017 fiscal year beginning July 1. The board passed a backup plan should more money head its way.

Open enrollment for members is April 2 to May 15.