State officials said Tuesday that they plan to increase the number of insurers and health plan options for state employees and teachers next year. The State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) has been a target of fierce criticism since Jan. 1. That’s when changes to its benefit design, plus the use of just one insurer, sparked widespread complaints from teachers and state employees about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs.
Rural health care may get a needed boost under a proposed regulation change that would allow a hospital to downsize its services, the commissioner of a Georgia health agency said Thursday. Clyde Reese, commissioner of the Department of Community Health, said he would ask the board of the agency to promulgate rules for such a “step-down” facility.
A state agency offered some financial relief to state employees and teachers Monday by approving changes in their health plan at a specially called board meeting. The sudden action by the Department of Community Health board follows a deluge of complaints from members of the State Health Benefit Plan, which also covers other school personnel, state retirees and dependents.
The commissioner of the Department of Community Health on Thursday upheld the award of the state employees’ health benefits contract to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. Clyde Reese, the DCH commissioner, also upheld the award of the pharmacy benefits management contract to Express Scripts. The contract award sparked intense criticism from UnitedHealthcare, which charged that the bidding process was flawed and needed to be redone.
Attorneys for UnitedHealthcare continued hammering away at the state’s award of an employee benefits contract to a competitor, saying Wednesday that it was a deeply flawed bidding process that needs to be redone. United currently holds the SHBP contract, along with Cigna, which has also protested the award.
Georgia Community Health Commissioner Clyde Reese says the state will seek new bids on part of the lucrative state health benefits plan after a major insurance company accused the agency of rigging the process.
Gov. Nathan Deal has nominated Clyde Reese to serve as commissioner of the Department of Community Health. Deal announced the nomination Thursday, which is subject to approval by the department's board. Reese is currently commissioner of the Department of Human Services.