University of Georgia, state to absorb out-of-pocket claims for 600k employees affected by Piedmont-BCBS split

Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal directed Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia to head back to the negotiating table for about 600,000 state employees affected by their contract lapse.

An in-network contract tying Piedmont to BCBS' provider network expired March 31. As of April 1, BCBS members must pay higher out-of-pocket costs to receive physician and hospital services at Piedmont. The change doesn't affect Medicare Advantage plan holders, save for Covington, Ga.-based Piedmont Newton Hospital patients.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield must honor the contractual obligations made to the state. If an equitable solution is not reached, I've directed the Department of Community Health and the State Health Benefit Plan to explore all possible solutions to ensure our members have access to care. The university system stands ready to take similar action on behalf of its employees. This step is necessary in order to protect our citizens from unanticipated costs and interruption to care," Mr. Deal said. 

He added Georgia and the University System of Georgia, based in Atlanta, will pocket employees' out-of-network claims for 30 days in an attempt to curb patients' financial burdens.

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