- 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.

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


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