CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The battle over West Virginia state workers’ health insurance plan is heating up at the Capitol and a critical vote is coming soon.

The PEIA bill has already passed the Senate and now awaits a House vote.

Dozens of labor union leaders and members gathered outside the main door of the House of Delegates on Friday.

They are opposed to a 26% increase in their health care payments, which many lawmakers say is critical to keeping PEIA health care in business.

Many state employees are being promised a $2,300 pay raise, but are worried rising health premiums will simply wipe out their pay increase.

“With this premium increase, and the spousal penalty, you know I might have to make a choice of paying one of my bills, you know or buying groceries or putting gas in my car,” said Sherri Talkington, West Virginia School Service Personnel Association.

“We’ve known for a long time that there is a growing gap between the amount of money we’re putting in it and its requirements,” Del. Matthew Rohrbach, (R) Cabell – Deputy Speaker said. “We’ve got to make structural changes to the plan, or frankly the plan is going to go broke.”

The problems with PEIA were underscored in January when Wheeling Hospital announced it would stop accepting the insurance plan, except for emergencies, because of low reimbursement rates.

There is concern that unless PEIA becomes more financially stable, other medical facilities will stop taking it too.

Unions were hoping today that some PEIA funding could come from the state’s $1.1 billion surplus, but so far there is no indication that might happen.