State lawmakers want to stop controversial changes to PEIA

CHARLESTON, WV (BY: BRAD MCELHINNY, WV METRONEWS) — State leaders are planning to reverse course on proposed changes to the Public Employees Insurance Agency plan for the coming year.

There is also continued debate over going beyond the 1-percent pay increase for teachers recommended by the governor for next year. The governor and Senate leadership say the 1 percent remains the cautious approach. The House of Delegates seems more willing to consider a bit more.

The latest PEIA proposal would include backing off on collapsing plans from 10 tiers to 5, as well as consideration of total family income to determine premiums.

The House of Delegates today passed a resolution requesting the PEIA Finance Board maintain its current financial plan, rather than moving to the controversial changes.

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CHARLESTON, WV (NEWS RELEASE) – The House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to recommend the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board suspend implementation of its proposed plan changes for one year in order to come up with a more desirable plan.

The House voted 97-1 to adopt House Resolution 5, which formally requests the PEIA Finance Board maintain its current financial plan for the coming year.

“We have heard loudly and clearly from our public employees and constituents about their fears and concerns over the changes to their health insurance plan,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. “They want to see something done, and so do we.”

Delaying changes to the PEIA plan in the coming year will give lawmakers and administration officials more time to offer input, consider additional options, and develop a better plan for the following year that has a fairer structure that better serves the state’s teachers, public employees and taxpayers.

“The overwhelming vote to adopt this resolution sends a strong message to the PEIA Finance Board that the people’s elected representatives in the House want to see action to change this plan,” said House Majority Leader Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan. “Delaying changes to the plan will give us more time to explore options in the budget and PEIA setup that will improve the plan but not have the negative effects on our teachers, service personnel and state employees.”

The resolution expresses concerns over unintended consequences and proposed changes to the plan that could significantly increase costs for many plan members. Those include changes that would:

  • Increase premiums, co-payments, out-of-pocket and coinsurance costs.
  • Use, for the first time, the new “total family income” criteria as a basis for calculating premiums.
  • Reduce the number of salary index codes for determining premiums.
  • Reduce the number of coverage tiers.
  • Institute financial penalties for declining to participate in one or more PEIA programs.

The resolution acknowledges that while some of these proposals were introduced in an attempt to provide a more fair plan, given the pressures of the escalating costs of health care and prescription drugs, the changes might have had unintended consequences that unfairly punish many state workers.

The full text of the resolution is available here: https://bit.ly/2E9tPap.

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