PEIA proposes increasing rates by at least 10.5%, again

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

In October 2021, Governor Jim Justice promised that Public Employment Insurance Agency (PEIA) rates would never increase on his watch. At the time, the PEIA board was considering a rate hike and he said to public employees, ““You can either trust me or not. But I am the one that came with your great pay raises. I am the one who delivered you no premium increases in PEIA and I’m the one that’s telling you that unless there’s a meteorite to hit the earth your premiums are not going to go up.” 

In the current fiscal year, PEIA rates increased by 24% for state employees and 15.6% for local government employees. Now, the PEIA board is proposing additional increases next year.

Rate increases by employee classification

State employees on the PEIA plan could see a 10.5% rate increase with no benefit changes. 

Employees of local governments, such as counties and cities, on PEIA would see a 13% rate increase. Also, local employees would face an additional charge if their spouse receives PEIA coverage. 

Medicare retirees would not see a rate increase or a change in benefits. 

Non-Medicare retirees would see a 10% rate increase with no benefit changes. 

This round of rate increases is expected to be the second of three or four. Rates are expected to be increased several more times in the coming years.

Legislative approval of the rate increases

Legislators paved the way for these rate increases during the last legislative session. As detailed in our previous coverage, Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate argued that these premium increases were necessary to keep PEIA solvent. 

“I don’t think any of us are happy to be here today,” Del. Matthew Rohrbach said, while explaining the bill earlier this year. “PEIA is $154 million in the hole. Failure to do nothing other than to continue the current course that we’ve been on, by 2027, we get up to a deficit of $424 million based on the Finance’s Board’s projections.”

Some officials, such as Delegate Todd Kirby (R-Raleigh), didn’t buy it. At the time, he said in reference to the state’s billion dollar budget surplus, “If our budget had been handled appropriately and responsibly, then we could have easily funded PEIA and provided tax cuts to families and workers throughout the state with plenty of surplus left over.”

Public hearings

The PEIA board has yet to formally approve these rate increases. Instead, they say they are considering them and will ask the public for comment through a series of public hearings in early November.

Stay tuned to RealWV for updates.

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