Latest News, WV Press Videos

PEIA debate heats up in WV House of Delegates

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Discussion continues in the West Virginia House of Delegates on issues surrounding funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency, but local legislators differ on where it stands.

The topic of PEIA funding has been extremely controversial, and the massive potential cuts to PEIA benefits has teachers and public employees concerned about their insurance costs.

But in a statement released Thursday morning, Del. Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, said, “PEIA is fixed.”

“This was creating angst among many of our school service personnel, our teachers and our public employees. Opponents have been throwing out a lot of rhetoric saying there isn’t a bill to fix PEIA. The truth: There was a bill introduced addressing PEIA the first day of the session. It’s House Bill 4017, the Budget Bill. And that budget bill will be the vehicle through which we fully fund PEIA in Fiscal Year 2017,” Householder said.

Del. Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, said he couldn’t disagree more with Householder’s statement.

“It’s a crock. It’s not true. It’s not fixed,” Skinner said.

“We haven’t been hearing how they are fixing it. If the budget will fix it, then show us. They haven’t shared it at all,” he added.

Skinner said the way the PEIA issue will be “fixed” from a Republican’s perspective is by raising insurance premiums.

“The reality is, ‘fixed’ is in the eye of the beholder. It’s very misleading to say otherwise,” Skinner said. “Show me the money, because I’m telling you it’s not there.”

Householder, in his statement, said state leadership has ignored the issue for some time.

“Over the last five years, neither the Democrat governor nor his party’s legislative leadership put additional funding into PEIA,” Householder wrote. “While health care costs have gone up, while the private sector has raised premiums and cut benefits, the Democrats were satisfied with holding funding flat and spending down PEIA’s reserves instead of addressing this situation before it snowballed, and boy, did it snowball.”

But, Householder continued, under new leadership, the Republican majority in the W.Va. House and Senate created a plan.

“The Fiscal Year 2017 budget will direct $43 million of additional general revenue funds and an additional $24 million in new special revenue funds to increase the state’s share of the contribution. This will total $67 million in new funds for the state’s share of premiums,” Householder said.

“In tandem with this, active employees and retirees will see an average premium increase of 12 percent, which will raise an additional $14 million from active employees and $10 million from retirees ($24 million combined) to cover their share of the increased funding. There will be no change from current deductibles or in out-of-pocket expenses,” he added.

Householder also said legislators have worked to create a new prescription drug benefit negotiated with CVS Caremark, that will save $23 million compared to the current contract with Express Scripts.

Combined with a few program changes that bring in an additional $6 million, all these measures cover the total $120 million gap, said Householder.

“Even though this involves a slight premium increase, this is still much better than the private market or the Obamacare exchange. This year alone, Highmark said premiums on the state insurance exchange would go up 24 percent that’s 24 percent in 2016 alone,” Householder said.

“Under this plan, PEIA is funded. It is in the line items in the budget bill. Virtually everyone agrees that we don’t want to change these line items,” he added.

Skinner disagreed. “This is a very serious issue. And raising people’s premiums won’t help, it will make it worse, a lot worse,” he said. “The house has no plan to actually deal with the PEIA crisis, period.”

Staff writer Katiann Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182, or at

To read more from The Journal, subscribe here. 

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address