What Gov. Bob Wise would like to see is private-sector companies pay into a pool. Through that pool, the public employees insurance agency would help provide health insurance for those companies' employees.
“I don't want to compete with the private sector, but if we've got thousands of people working, and they're not able to get health insurance, how can we work together to make West Virginia a leader in the nation in providing health insurance for small business workers?” says Gov. Wise.
One local business leader calls the governor's proposal a start. He says the public sector cannot completely fund insurance for small business employees.
George Kellenberger, President, Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce, says, “When you see that 94 percent of the chamber members are small business, when you see the majority of chamber members in other communities are smaller, we're not going to be by ourselves in this arena.
There could be some concern about the PEIA itself being involved in the program, given it's past history of financial problems.
PEIA has been awarded $1.3 million in grants for the program, and would kick in $900,000 of its own.