Local school systems face higher health insurance bills

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Public school systems are going to be hit with a substantial increase in the premiums they pay for health insurance coverage for non-teaching employees.

The Georgia Board of Community Health voted Thursday to increase the employer contributions that school systems pay into the State Health Benefits Plan by $150 per month per non-teaching employee for each of the next three years.

This means that the current employer contribution of $296 per month per employee will be increased to $446 per month in fiscal year 2013, $596 per month in 2014 and $746 per month in 2015.

The premium increase is part of the continuing effort by the Department of Community Health (DCH), which administers the State Health Benefits Plan, to deal with a deficit that at one time was estimated at $815 million.

DCH Commissioner David Cook said the cost of insurance coverage for non-certificated public school employees – there are more than 71,000 of them in the plan – made up about $432 million of that total deficit.

The premium increase for school systems “goes a long way toward significantly addressing the deficit,” Cook said.

The community health board voted in earlier meetings this year to increase the premiums paid for the coverage of state government employees under the State Health Benefits Plan.

The DCH board approved a set of regulations Thursday that implement the provisions of legislation adopted this year, SB 178, that establishes a new licensing category of long-term care provider for assisted living communities.

SB 178 was supported by such organizations as Georgia Health Association, AARP, UHS Pruitt and others involved in the care of senior citizens.

The board voted to rescind a 0.5 percent reduction in Medicaid reimbursements to providers that was initially adopted in July. The Legislature called for the provider rate cut as a means of saving money in Medicaid, but DCH officials said they were able to make other changes that eliminated the need for the provider rate cut.

The board agreed to rescind a scale of co-payment increases for recipients of Medicaid and PeachCare services.

Some of the co-pay increases would have amounted to 45 cents or 65 cents, depending upon the service, an odd amount that generated complaints from providers.  A new scale of co-payments is being proposed that instead will round off these increases to the nearest 50 cents.

© 2011 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: assisted living , Board of Community Health , co-payments , David Cook , DCH , Medicaid , PeachCare , provider reimbursement rates , State Health Benefits Plan