WV PEIA Task Force gets crash course in PEIA operations, expenses

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WV PEIA Task Force gets crash course in PEIA operations, expenses
Phil Kabler, Charleston Gazette-Mail

For about two hours Tuesday, members of the PEIA Task Force got a crash course in all things PEIA, including how the health care plan provider operates and why, like most health insurance programs, it is seeing its costs increase annually.

“It’s our responsibility to understand this plan,” task force chairman and Justice administration chief of staff Mike Hall told the 29-member panel. “As has been said by many, ‘Fix PEIA.’ Well, you gotta know what you’re fixing.”

PEIA Executive Director Ted Cheatham presented members with an overview of what he called “the wonderful world of PEIA,” encompassing a 100-plus page Powerpoint presentation.

Cheatham went over the basics of the plan, which covers about 230,000 people and pays out more than $900 million a year in claims.

He said prescription drug costs are the primary reason that PEIA claims are increasing in the neighborhood of $50 million a year.

“The biggest driver, by far, right now, is pharmacy expenses,” Cheatham said. “It’s not a state problem. It’s a national problem.”

Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health, noted that West Virginians lead the nation in total numbers of prescription drugs they take frequently for chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, that can be treated with exercise and lifestyle changes.

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