Mountain State Spotlight, Beckley Register-Herald, Times West Virginian – Earlier this month, when lawmakers were still preparing to come to Charleston for the legislative session, WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital dropped a bombshell: it would stop taking the state’s public employees’ health insurance. Almost immediately, lawmakers promised action and on the first day of the session, state senators passed a bill to increase the amount the Public Employees Insurance Agency, or PEIA, reimburses hospitals.
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But even the bill’s lead sponsor, Senate Majority Whip Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, acknowledged that the bill was “a short-term fix to what are significant, systemic issues within PEIA.”
More than 200,000 public employees in West Virginia, including all state employees and public school teachers, rely on PEIA for health care for them and their families. Frustrations over the program’s rising premiums and declining quality of care were a driving factor for the nine-day teachers’ strike in 2018. But since then, the agency’s financial crisis has only gotten worse.