ATLANTA -- Georgia's teachers and other state employees are getting some of their benefits back.
The Department of Community Health's board voted Monday to revert back 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.
"We heard our state employees and teachers and we listened," Governor Deal said in a written statement. "I appreciate the board and the commissioner's willingness to work with me on a timely solution. I shared the concerns of state employees and teachers about the high costs they were having to pay out of pocket. I believe this new direction addresses the core concerns of our employees. The SHBP already covered 100 percent of preventative care visits, and these improvements give employees an additional layer of security so they can do the right things to stay healthy. The DCH board faced very tough decisions last year as it sought cost savings in light of large new costs brought on by the federal health care law; these are the same pressures affecting private sector employers across the country, many of whom are tightening eligibility or dropping coverage altogether. In the next budget year for the state, the mandates in the ACA will cost the State Health Benefit Plan an additional $225 million. These costs will force many tough decisions in the years to come. I'll continue to work to keep our best public servants with competitive salaries and the health coverage their families need."
According to the governor, co-pays will become effective on March 14 and will be retroactive to Jan. 1. Premiums, deductibles, out-of-pockets and HRA contributions will not be affected. State health benefit plan members do not need to take any action to receive these new benefits.