Associated Press Published

PEIA Task Force Holds Meeting on Funding Solutions

Teachers and other state workers rally at the Capitol, Mar. 6, 2018.

A task force met for a second time Tuesday as it tries to find a long-term funding solution to an insurance program for West Virginia teachers and other public employees.

Public Employees Insurance Agency Director Ted Cheatham gave a detailed presentation on the agency’s makeup and finances to the 29 task force members at the state Culture Center in Charleston.

Cheatham, whose presentation included more than 100 slides, told the task force, “I don’t want you to get distracted by numbers.”

Gov. Jim Justice and the Legislature agreed to freeze PEIA premiums, deductibles and co-pays for the coming year and provided $29 million in supplemental funding. Teachers want a more permanent funding fix.

Cheatham has said that because of medical inflation, about $50 million to $70 million would be needed annually to keep the program functioning as it currently does.

The task force earlier agreed to form three committees to review the coverage plan and its costs and revenues, and for legislative and public outreach.

Justice also signed a 5 percent pay raise for teachers last month to end their nine-day strike.

Justice Chief of Staff Mike Hall, who chairs the task force, said there will be a meeting of the public and legislative outreach committee April 19 at the state Capitol. He said at least 11 public hearings of the task force will be held statewide and that as many as two will be livestreamed from Charleston.

“It’s our responsibility to understand this plan,” Hall said. “As we know has been said by many, ‘fix PEIA.’ Well, you’ve got to know what you’re fixing before you fix it.”