CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A task force on the Public Employees Insurance Agency started its work today, but the heavy lifting is still ahead.

Gov. Jim Justice signed an executive order to establish the task force after teachers and other public employees complained about the skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs of their health insurance plans.

“Let’s get it done. Let’s do it. I can never thank you enough for being here,” Justice told task force members today, greeting the group before departing the room.

The 29-member committee next plans to meet April 10 at the state Culture Center to go over the basics of how PEIA works and what its financial status is.

MORE: The PEIA Task Force website.

Mike Hall

“We’ll go over in detail how this plan works,” said chairman Mike Hall, the chief of staff for the Justice administration. “What I would think we would have to do as a task force is to know exactly what we’re talking about.

“You’ll see how all the different things work, what drives the costs, what the reserves are. I think that’ll be critical as we go forward.”

MORE: Five big issues for the PEIA Task Force

The committee also agreed to divide itself into three groups. They include the topics of coverage and plan review, cost and revenue and legislative and public outreach.

In other words: a) the ins and outs of what the plan covers, b) supply and demand and c) communicating with the Legislature and the public.

Judy Hale

Judy Hale, a retired educator who was president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, said she would like to focus on potential revenue streams to shore up PEIA funding. She mentioned gambling and severance taxes as two areas.

“I was hoping we would spend a great deal of time on that,” Hale said.

“Yeah, that’s the whole point of is is in the discussion of fixing PEIA to have a specific strategy for funding whatever you believe is the fix,” Hall responded.

File Photo

Dale Lee

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, focused on public hearings to be made available for the residents of all 55 counties.

“I would think that with a committee of this size, with 29 people, that we could really divide up into subgroups to go into the 55 counties to hear the concerns of the people,” Lee said.

Hall responded, “I’m glad to hear you say that because that’s what I had in mind.”

Hall said the goal is to have recommendations at least in time for December legislative interim meetings and also in time for the PEIA Finance Board to start considering plans for the 2020 fiscal year.

Craig Blair

“I would encourage us to accelerate,” said Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley. “It’s a lot easier to have a special session, laser beam focus on something like this, rather than calling it up in a 60-day session.”

Hall said he doesn’t want to cut short the public hearing process, but otherwise  “If we can have a report ready for the public by the first of the summer, it would be fine with me.”

Task force members  include:

  • Marty Becker, chairman of the board of directors, QBE Insurance Group
  • Greg Burton, chief executive officer of Brickstreet Insurance
  • Andy Paterno, chief executive officer of Centurion Insurance Services
  • Joe Letnaunchyn, president and CEO, West Virginia Hospital Association
  • Rob Alsop, vice president for strategic initiatives, West Virginia University
  • Nelson Spencer, McDowell County Schools superintendent
  • Perry Bryant, founder, West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare
  • Senator Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson)
  • Senator Robert Plymale (D-Wayne)
  • Senator Craig Blair (R-Berkeley)
  • Delegate Eric Nelson (R-Kanawha)
  • Delegate Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay)
  • Delegate Mick Bates (D-Raleigh)
  • Geoff Christian, current member of the PEIA Finance Board
  • Christine Campbell, president, American Federation of Teachers West Virginia
  • Dale Lee, president, West Virginia Education Association
  • James “Joe” White, Executive Director, West Virginia School Service Personnel Association
  • Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health and State Health Officer
  • Douglas Kirk, Division of Highways
  • Lieutenant Michael LaFauci, West Virginia State Police
  • Jeffrey Reed, retired Wood Circuit Court judge
  • Judy Hale, retired public educator and former AFT president.
  • Beth “Buffy” Hammers, chief executive officer, Marshall Health
  • Helen Matheny, director of collaborative relations and initiatives, WVU Health Sciences Center
  • Lisa M. Simon, certified public accountant, Wheeling
  • Sarita Beckett, public school teacher, Raleigh County
  • Dr. Sherri Young, Medicare medical director, Aetna Insurance
  • Amy Loring, human resources director and director of staffing and employee relations, Berkeley County Schools
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