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WV officials unsure PEIA would benefit from privatization

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WV officials unsure PEIA would benefit from privatization
By Phil Kabler, The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Privatization of West Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation insurance was successful, particularly in lowering employer premiums and increasing competition, Brickstreet Insurance CEO Greg Burton told legislators Tuesday.

Whether those successes would apply to privatization of the state Public Employees Insurance Agency health insurance remains to be seen, he said.

“I’m not sure all the successes that happened with Workers’ Comp privatization, particularly with the decreases in rates…would translate over to PEIA,” he told a legislative interim committee studying PEIA.

Burton, who was executive director of the state-run Workers’ Compensation Division when legislation privatizing the plan was enacted in 2005, and oversaw its transition to a private company on Jan. 1, 2006, recounted the process for legislators Tuesday.

While stressing the differences between health insurance and insurance that provides benefits to workers who sustain workplace injuries, Burton said there are certain guidelines to follow regarding privatization.

He noted that West Virginia modeled its legislation privatizing Workers’ Comp on Nevada law, and said, “I would take a look to see if other states have privatized their equivalent of PEIA.”

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