PEIA task force chair prepares to find “fix” for health care plan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The legislature and education workers unions are expected to have their selections for the new Public Employees Insurance Agency Task Force on the desk of Gov. Jim Justice by end of the day Monday.

Justice appointed his 12 members of the 23-member task force back on Friday.

Mike Hall

The task force was created by Justice’s executive order entered last week after concerns expressed by teachers, school service personnel and others about the rising costs of their health insurance through PEIA.

MORE Read executive order here

The task force, which will meet for the first time March 13, will be chaired by Justice administration Chief of Staff Mike Hall.

Hall said he expects the panel, which includes seven Justice appointees “having particular knowledge and expertise of the insurance industry and business,” will try to find that “permanent fix” for PEIA that everyone’s been talking about by looking at things like premiums, deductibles, access to care, drug benefits and trying to define what a “fix” should look like.

The executive order calls for the task force to have public hearings in all 55 counties.

“That’s a very robust gathering of public input,” Hall said.

The “fix” may include designating a certain amount of general revenue money off the top to PEIA each year like the legislature did with the workers’ compensation debt a few years ago, Hall said.

“It may be in the range of 20, 30, 40 million (dollars) every year that you would have to say that off the top this goes to PEIA and it maintains the benefit levels that this group (PEIA Task Force) would determine would be a fix,” Hall said.

The public hearings will provide the data the group will need to come up with the fix, Hall said.

The first meeting is expected to be organizational in nature. The executive order says the task force has to have its final report done before the PEIA Finance Board rolls out its benefits plan for the 2020 fiscal year which will happen this November.

The 23-member task force includes:

–Mike Hall, chair

–three full-time state workers appointed by the governor

–two retired state workers appointed by the governor

–seven governor appointees with insurance and business experience

–a current member of the PEIA Finance Board

–three members of the state Senate

–three members of the House of Delegates

–one representative each (3 total) from the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, West Virginia Education Association and West Virginia School Service Personnel Association

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