CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House of Delegates Committee on Finance today originated and approved a bill that would immediately transfer $29 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the Public Employees Insurance Agency to guarantee there would be no changes to employee healthcare programs for the coming fiscal year.
“This bill demonstrates this Legislature’s commitment to ensuring there be no changes to public employees’ PEIA plans in the coming year,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha. “Transferring this money now will ensure there are no changes to employees’ co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses in the coming fiscal year.”
The Finance Committee on Wednesday morning originated House Bill 4620 to immediately transfer the $29 million needed to ensure there are no changes to PEIA in the coming year from the Revenue Shortfall Reserve Fund, which along with the separate Revenue Shortfall Reserve Fund-Part B are known generally as the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
The $29 million will be transferred to the PEIA Basic Insurance Premium Fund. Because it is being directly transferred to this specific fund, it will not be subject to the statutory 80-20 cost-sharing rule, and therefore will not trigger an increase in employees’ premiums in the coming year.
“The way this transfer is being done will allow the PEIA Finance Board to offset deductible and out-of-pocket increases without resulting in premium increases for public employees,” Chairman Nelson said.
The state’s Rainy Day Fund currently has a balance of more than $714 million dollars. Chairman Nelson said this immediate transfer would still keep the fund’s balance at more than 15 percent of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal – a key level used by ratings agencies to evaluate the state’s credit rating.
“While PEIA funding would typically be addressed in the Budget Bill, since the PEIA Finance Board is currently holding public hearings to reconsider changes to the plan, we felt this action of immediately transferring these funds would underscore our intention to guarantee no changes in PEIA plans for the coming year,” Chairman Nelson said. “Though it isn’t a long-term fix, this action will give us time to work with all parties to consider all options to provide affordable and sustainable health insurance programs for our state employees in the coming year.”
In addition to Chairman Nelson, House Bill 4620 is co-sponsored by Delegates Bill Anderson, R-Wood; Carol Miller, R-Cabell; Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; Allen Evans, R-Grant; Erikka Storch, R-Ohio; Ron Walters, R-Kanawha; Cindy Frich, R-Monongalia; Jim Butler, R-Mason; Joe Ellington, R-Mercer; and George “Boogie” Ambler, R-Greenbrier.
House Bill 4620 now heads to the House floor for further consideration.