By PHIL KABLER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Support for a bill in the House of Delegates to create a new funding stream for the state Public Employees Insurance Agency was unanimous Thursday, but views on how well the proposal will work were anything but.
The bill (HB4625) passed 98-0, but during a 90-minute floor debate, critics argued that the bill is yet another Band-Aid for the fundamental problem with the state-managed health insurance program — it needs another $50 million to $70 million of new funding each year to keep up with rising medical and drug costs.
“We’re literally throwing two or three cents at a dollar problem,” complained Delegate Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton. “This is a good idea, but you’re not making it a priority.”
As House Finance Chairman Eric Nelson explained, because the state is constitutionally required to have a balanced budget each year, the state always finishes the budget year with a surplus of some sort, even in years when there are major revenue shortfalls.
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