CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The House of Delegates on Friday voted to approve a bill that would immediately transfer $29 million to the Public Employees Insurance Agency to guarantee there will be no increases to deductibles, co-pays, premium structure and out-of-pocket expenses for the next year.
“We have heard loudly and clearly from our teachers and state employees that they have deep concerns about the changes that were discussed to their insurance plans,” said House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha. “This is just the latest step we have taken to begin addressing those concerns.”
The House voted to suspend the state constitutional rule requiring a bill be read on three consecutive days in order to pass House Bill 4620, which would allow, upon signature by the Governor, the immediate transfer of $29 million needed to ensure there are no changes to PEIA in the coming year from the state’s Rainy Day Fund.
“This bill demonstrates our commitment to ensure our public employees will not see any changes to the PEIA plan in the coming year,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha. “Transferring this money now will ensure there are no changes to the plan and prevent increases in employees’ co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses in the coming fiscal year.”
House leaders, working with PEIA officials and Gov. Jim Justice’s office, had already helped negotiate changes to the controversial Go365 program, taking it from a mandatory program to a voluntary incentive plan.
The House had previously passed a resolution to formally request the PEIA Finance Board maintain its current plan structure for the upcoming fiscal year. This $29 million transfer approved today would fully fund the PEIA system for the coming year, ensuring there are no changes to the plan.
“While this isn’t a long-term fix, this bill gives us the time needed to work with all parties – including the PEIA Finance Board and representatives of our various public employee groups – to consider all options to provide affordable and sustainable health insurance programs for our state employees for years to come,” Chairman Nelson said.
“We intend to form a task force shortly that will spend the coming months examining our entire public employee health insurance program to explore a full range of options to improve our PEIA system,” Speaker Armstead said. “We need a long-term solution, and we are committed to delivering that.”
House Bill 4620 now goes the state Senate for further consideration.