Controlling Costs For PEIA Program

For years, West Virginia legislators have suffered from a headache that just would not go away. Taxpayers feel the pain, too.

It is from the Public Employees Insurance Agency, which provide health care coverage for about 220,000 active and retired West Virginians. Though they pay a portion of the cost, the lion’s share — somewhere between $450 million and $500 million a year, it has been reported — is covered by taxpayers.

For now, PEIA finances appear to be solid, especially in view of the special appropriation of $105 million lawmakers provided this year for a new PEIA reserve fund.

But this week, PEIA Executive Director Ted Cheatham said projections are that, even with the $105 million, the program will need another increase in annual funding by the 2020-21 plan year.

Legislators — and taxpayers — may have to add another $50 million to $80 million to the PEIA subsidy by then.

Clearly, finding a way to control PEIA costs — difficult in an environment in which health care expenses seem to escalate regularly — is important. Both PEIA officials and legislators need to make that a priority.

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