- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia plans to spend about $114 million to restore some benefits to the health plan covering teachers and state employees.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (https://bit.ly/1lh31ZM ) the Department of Community Health’s board voted Monday to revert to offering small co-payments for health services and drugs to the 650,000 state workers, retirees and dependents covered by the plan.

The agency changed the plan last year to end the co-payments in an effort to save the state money. Teachers and state workers argued they would be forced to pay higher out-of-pocket costs starting Jan. 1.

They put pressure on Gov. Nathan Deal, who is up for re-election this year, to fix the problem. Money for the co-payments is coming of reserve funds for the state’s $3 billion health plan.

“We heard our state employees and teachers and we listened,” Deal said in a statement. “I appreciate the board and the commissioner’s willingness to work with me on a timely solution.”

The governor’s office said co-pays will become effective March 14, but will be applied retroactively to Jan. 1.

Tracey Nelson, director of government relations for the Georgia Association of Educators, said in a statement that the organization has lingering questions about a lack of provider options and coverage throughout the state.

The Georgia Democratic Caucus released a statement saying changes to the plan don’t go far enough and don’t offer enough provider options.

A bill introduced by State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, last week would require DCH to offer at least two provider choices, caucus members said adding that the plan currently provides coverage under Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia.


Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, https://www.ajc.com

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