After a major financial shortfall, the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) is working on shoring up its future funding. The agency ended the past fiscal year down $93 million.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said the shortfall came, in part, from a reduction in projected investment income and an increase in post-pandemic elective surgeries.
“The investment income was less than they projected due to what happened in the stock market,” Lee said. “The number of claims was higher. During the COVID-19 years, people were putting off the elective procedures, and in 2022 people were starting to do those again, so the number of procedures that were being paid for was higher than what they had anticipated.”
Lee said PEIA officials have cost savings measures now in place and believes Gov. Jim Justice will honor his promise to keep PEIA solvent.
“At some point you’re going to have to put money in,” Lee said. “I believe the governor will put the $93 million in so there won’t be any increases for this next year. But where the problem lies is down the road come about 2026.”
Lee said concerns over long term funding go back to a 2019 legislative recommendation from the PEIA task force.
“Put PEIA money into the general fund so that you know that you’re funding it. Provisions that the state shall pay no less than 80 percent of that and the employee shall pay no more than 20 percent,” Lee said. “The cost savings would come under the employee share. It’s a way of ensuring for the long term, the viability of PEIA. At the time, Senate President Craig Blair was the Finance Committee Chair and a member of the task force. He seconded the motion to make this a recommendation that passed. And yet it hasn’t made its way to a committee agenda since 2019.”
PEIA will release its new financial plan at a statewide series of public events in November.