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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hall discusses PEIA issues

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hall discusses PEIA issues

By Matt Maccaro | WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With the PEIA in a significant financial hole, the heat is on lawmakers to do something to fund the struggling insurance agency.

Putnam County Senator and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mike Hall says the PEIA is in real trouble.

“There’s no place you can go unless you add more cash, or reduce the benefits,” he said on MetroNews “Hotline” on Monday. “Unless you could gradually take premiums up which you haven’t been able to do.”

Hall pointed out that there’s basically two schools of thought when it comes to health insurance.

“There either people who will pay a higher premium for a richer benefit. (And) people who are younger and healthy and say (they’ll) take the risk of a higher deductible,” he explained. “I think that’s right. That ends up picking winners and losers; some people are real winners and others are losers.”

Hall said that the PEIA can’t afford to lose money again in the current fiscal year.

“If you’re $300 million down again this year, there’s problems,” said Hall. “There’s significant problems. I don’t know if it’s quite that much; I’m talking about next year.”

In a $120 million hole, the PEIA is proposing a $500 increase for workers on an individual plan and $1,000 for those with a family plan. Out-of-pocket maximums will increase $1,500 for single and $3,000 for a family.

Hall said there’s other ways to help get the PEIA back on its feet other than breaking into the state rainy-day fund.

“There is other money in different re-appropriated accounts other than rainy day money that can be used, and was used last year to help balance that budget,” Hall said. “The budget was balanced not with the revenue entirely but with some of that cash that was here and there around the state.”

The plan will be up for final approval before the finance board next month. The PEIA recently completed a series of public hearings statewide on it’s proposal to raise deductibles.