Task force begins working toward PEIA solution

Members of the Public Employees Insurance Agency task force meet Tuesday for the first time. Committees were established for each aspect of finding a fix for PEIA. (WCHS/WVAH)

The first PEIA task force meeting was held Tuesday to establish committees for each aspect of finding a fix to the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

In the meeting, a few preliminary measures were taken to get the task force started. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice talked to the group of 29 members briefly, saying the time they are taking to be a part of this task force is crucial to coming up with a plan and ultimately making PEIA better for those who have it.

"Let's get it done, let's do it," Justice said.

Justice stepped in the meeting briefly to stress the importance of finding a solution to PEIA problems.

"We all know that health care costs continue to move and it's difficult. It's very, very difficult," Justice said.

The governor's chief of staff, Mike Hall, said costs will be a focal point through all of the task force meetings.

"Once you look at this plan, see what drives the cost and how you connect those fixes for how this plan is designed," Hall said. "There will be some disagreement, but I'm hoping there will be a genuine consensus about how to take the things the people identify as needing to be fixed and the plan rolled into the solution for that."

Three committees were formed by the task force. One is for coverage and plan review, the second for cost and revenue, and the third is for legislative and public outreach.

Before those committees can work toward a fix, Hall said they have to understand what is broken.

"This is partially to be educational as well as making decisions about what to recommend to the PEIA board for next year's plan year and what to recommend to them to do for the foreseeable future," Hall said.

PEIA Director Ted Cheatham said the input from this task force will either validate how PEIA works currently or make improvements.

"To make this plan work for the citizen as they want it to work, and hopefully there will be a funding stream so that we're not coming back to the Legislature every year, but all those things are positive to me," Cheatham said. "I think PEIA is going to be better as a result of all this action."

The executive order, creating the task force stated that all 55 counties should be reached for public hearings to make sure every person gets the chance to speak and have their questions answered. The ultimate goal for the task force is to complete a report by September, if not sooner.

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