It is likely West Virginia public employees and retirees will pay more for health insurance next year. If so, they can blame President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - and members of Congress who voted for the new national health care law.
If you thought Obama, Pelosi, Reid and lawmakers who voted for the law promised it would lower health care costs, you are absolutely correct. But we were among critics warning that it would force tens of millions of Americans to pay more for health insurance and medical care.
Tens of thousands of public employees and retirees are covered by the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency. PEIA Director Ted Cheatham told agency board members last week he had expected to end the current fiscal year with a $40 million surplus for the program.
That would have enabled the PEIA to get through next year without increasing health insurance premiums.
But Cheatham added the surplus is expected to be wiped out by changes forced on the PEIA by the new federal health care law. At the very least, the law is expected to cost the PEIA $30 million more next year, according to an actuarial report.
Among the more costly mandates is one that requires the PEIA to cover the children of its clients until they reach 27 years of age. Another expensive requirement involves mental health treatment.
PEIA officials - with help from clients who have paid higher premiums and in some cases agreed to changes in coverage - have made progress in controlling expenses during recent years. "The problem is, it's all going to be offset by the federal health reform," Cheatham noted.
Again, we were among those pointing out that "ObamaCare" would make health insurance and care more expensive for many Americans. But the liberals - including members of Congress who voted for the measure - in effect said we were lying.
We were not. Either they were, or they simply didn't understand the health care bill. Either way, Mountain State residents should be pressuring our delegation in Congress to take another look at the law. A good start would be to rescind it, begin anew on health care reform - and this time, listen to voices of reason who pointed out that it is impossible to get something for nothing.