Don’t blame Legislature for PEIA woes

A Daily Mail editorial from the Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board voted Thursday to implement $120 million in cuts to workers’ health insurance plans. Those cuts could result in higher premiums, increased deductibles and copays and more in prescription drug costs, the Gazette-Mail’s Eric Eyre reported.

“This is going to be very devastating,” said board member Elaine Harris. “People are going to have to make choices, and those choices are not good choices.”

No one wants to pay more, but health care costs continue to rise nationwide, affecting employees in both the public and private sectors. PEIA has held off increasing costs by spending down its reserves. Now, it seems members of the Finance Board want to pass the buck to the Legislature.

On Thursday, the board said it would scrap all proposed health insurance benefit cuts for public employees and retirees if the Legislature allocates the needed $120 million.

“The board is sending a clear message to the Legislature,” said Josh Sword, a PEIA board member. “If you — legislative leadership — make funding PEIA a priority, then this is the difference you can make. If you choose not to, then we’re looking at draconian benefit reductions.”

 But State Senate President Bill Cole had strong words for that Board: “We don’t walk away from tough problems in the Legislature, and we want to make this abundantly clear: West Virginia’s taxpayers will not be left to hold the bag for the bad decisions and poor management of the political status quo, including this PEIA Finance Board…

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