Boone County school employees rally

Ariel Price, a teacher at Van High School, wears a jacket calling for a fix for PEIA at Scott High School on Thursday. She and other Boone County teachers encouraged drivers to honk their horns in support during Thursday’s school walkouts.

The Public Employees Insurance Agency announced Monday that it’s terminating its contract with Humana Go365 effective April 30.

School workers had criticized the program before the statewide public school employees strike that ended March 6, after nine canceled school days. Days before the Feb. 2 work stoppages in several counties that preceded the statewide strike, Gov. Jim Justice asked that PEIA insurees who didn’t comply with Go365 not be punished with higher premiums and deductibles.

Insurees were to see premium and deductible increases if they didn’t earn enough points through things like meeting health goals and completing health assessments, but the PEIA Finance Board canceled those proposed punishments after Justice’s statement.

A post Monday on PEIA’s website said, “While we are fully supportive of the program, and of the Go365 staff, a couple of issues have made this decision the only sensible choice.”

The post said Internal Revenue Service guidance “makes the incentives offered under the Go365 program (gift cards, fitness equipment, etc.) taxable income. This creates a whole host of reporting issues for the plan that we have not been able to overcome.

“We contemplated removing the financial incentives from the program and letting it continue, but we reached the conclusion that the program would not be worth the investment as a voluntary benefit with no incentives for participation,” the post said. “PEIA still has a legal requirement to provide a wellness program, so we will be pursuing other options, and anticipate guidance from the PEIA Task Force, as well, as we move forward.”

The post said the change doesn’t affect Humana Medicare Retirees who have Go365 through the PEIA/Humana Plans.

“For policyholders who have earned bucks on the Go365 platform during our ‘soft launch’ period, you may redeem your bucks in the Go365 Mall between now and 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 30, 2018,” the post said. “Please be aware that any bucks you redeem are considered taxable income.”

The post didn’t say whether the contract termination would cost the state money.

Around 3:25 p.m. Monday, Jessica Cramer, PEIA administrative secretary, referred the Gazette-Mail to Diane Holley-Brown, communications director for the state Department of Administration, for comment. Holley-Brown didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“In the meantime, the Healthy Tomorrows [wellness] program continues,” the post said. “For Plan Year 2020, to avoid the additional $500 deductible, policyholders must have bloodwork completed between April 2, 2018, and May 15, 2019, report those numbers to PEIA on the form in the Shopper’s Guide or on the personalized form we’ll mail you later in the plan year, and have their biometric numbers within the ranges specified on the form or a physician’s certification that those numbers cannot be met for a clinical reason.”

“PEIA still believes that it’s important for our members to continue to strive for better health, and we’ve identified a number of websites and apps that can be useful in that regard. Find links to them on our website at www.wvpeia.com — see Wellness Tools.”

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazettemail.com, facebook.com/ryanedwinquinn, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

Education Reporter