Genuine solution needed for PEIA

Give members of the panel Gov. Jim Justice appointed to “fix” the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency credit. They have taken on the impossible task of trying to please all of the people all of the time.

It can’t be done, as has been observed.

Justice appointed the PEIA Task Force in reaction to complaints by school personnel earlier this year. They want a “fix” to escalating premiums for their health insurance. Trimming benefits to hold premiums down has not proved appealing.

Members of the pane have been meeting off and on for several weeks. Their labors have been primarily in educating themselves about the PEIA. As Mike Hall, Justice’s chief of staff and chairman of the task force, noted, “you have got to know what you’re fixing before you fix it.”

It may well be that the more panel members learn, the less optimistic they will become. As we have noted previously, if you want to know how difficult it is to devise a health care program that satisfies everyone, ask Congress..

There is a bottom line, and it does not inspire much hope. It is that health insurance costs in general are in an upward curve and there is no reason to believe it will level off anytime soon. That means the PEIA’s costs will continue to go up and up and up …

If they cannot be gotten under control and PEIA enrollees are not willing to pay higher premiums, endure slimmed-down benefits or participate in “wellness” programs, where does that leave the task force?

“We … have to allocate the appropriate amount of state dollars to the plan. If we don’t, no fix is possible without the appropriate funding,” suggested House of Delegates member Mick Bates, D-Raleigh.

It that translates to simply dumping the problem on taxpayers, forget it. The last we checked, the state budget included $422 million a year in support for the PEIA. That money comes out of the pockets of Mountain State residents who have plenty of trouble covering their own health care expenses.

Don’t please some of the people by letting the rest foot the bill entirely, in other words.

What’s the solution? We wish we knew. One way or another, however, it needs to be a “fix” — not merely a claim of one.


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