Undermining subcommittee’s data before it even files report not helping fix PEIA, either

You can meet all the drop-dead deadlines you want from here till next Tuesday.

But if the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) Task Force doesn’t take step one to heart no one will know how to fix PEIA.

Step one is a report summarizing the results of more than 20 public hearings, nearly 850 completed surveys and countless other comments.

That report was approved Tuesday — the panel’s self-imposed deadline — but there’s no word yet on reaction to it. Still, the word was years ago and is today that the problem with PEIA is affordability.

To be exact, such costs as premiums, co-pays and deductibles linked to this state health insurance plan for public employees and their families is the issue.

Though the issue of costs was self-evident long ago, that doesn’t diminish the important work the PEIA Task Force’s Public Outreach Subcommittee did this year.

Nor should this work be dismissed by the fact that it only heard from about 1 percent of the 233,000 people covered by PEIA.

Yet, that’s what state Senate President Mitch Carmichael, who sits on this panel, would have you believe.

According to Carmichael, “If you polled the state Senate, less than 1 percent would be one senator. Would you make your decision based on that?”

We agree that this is a small sample size to base recommendations on how best to fix a complex health insurance plan. However, we suspect if you were to poll just one public employee you would reach the same conclusion had you polled everyone covered by PEIA.

Last week, Carmichael, R-Jackson, did admit that the subcommittee overwhelmingly heard that cost was the No. 1 issue with PEIA. But then rhetorically asked,“So how do you fix it? What was the recommendation? Taxes, right? A funding source,” he said.

How else would you pay to fix it? And before anyone jumps to conclusions, the source the panel heard proposed the most was raising the natural gas severance tax.

Admittedly, many people enjoy taking the worst side just for the sake of argument in discussions.

However, rather than playing devil’s advocate we get the impression that Carmichael is playing adversary on this subcommittee.

The acrimony that exists between him and the two leaders of the state’s teachers’ unions, who also sit on this panel, is understandable.

However, to drag that kind of rancor into preparing a report on what you heard, not your opinions, is wrong.

This group did put its differences aside and summarized the comments and concerns it heard into this report.

But we cannot forget, the entire state is still under pressure to fix PEIA — not play politics.

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