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Senate approves bill changing makeup of PEIA Finance Board

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Senate approves bill changing makeup of PEIA Finance Board
By WV MetroNews

The State Senate has approved along party lines a bill changing the makeup of the Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board. Republican backers say SB 622 is a response to the financial problems with the state’s health insurance program.

Governor Tomblin and lawmakers are trying to restore over $120 million in PEIA benefit cuts approved by the finance board last December to cover rising costs. Those changes would result in higher out-of-pocket costs for the 200,000 PEIA members.

The legislation, which passed 18-16, reduces the number of board members from ten to eight, increases the experience requirements of members and prevents lobbyists from serving. The bill now goes to the House.

Senator Chris Walters (R-Putnam) said it would help “to have actuaries, to have accountants, to have individuals who know trends of health care on there… putting that high level of experience on the board can only create a better outcome for the future of our public employees.”

However, Senator Ron Miller (D-Greenbrier) accused Republicans of blaming the messenger. “We can blame them all we want because they made us look bad or made us feel bad, but this board spoke the truth. And any time a board of state government that has been appointed by the governor speaks the truth and we fire them all, we’ve got problems ourselves.”

The bill says any member of the current board can continue to serve until their successor has been appointed or qualifies.