ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Nathan Deal is asking a Georgia hospital and popular insurance company to resume contract negotiations after both failed to reach a deal.
WABE-TV reports Deal is stepping into an ended contract dispute that has left nearly 600,000 residents covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia out of network and Piedmont doctors and hospitals without coverage. The governor said this week the state will absorb those claims for up to 30 days to financially help impacted state employees.
Piedmont and Blue Cross had been negotiating new terms, but failed to reach a contract agreement by the April 1 deadline. Those affected are current state employees, retirees and their families who are eligible to use Blue Cross at a Piedmont provider.
Deal is urging both companies to continue their negotiations.
"Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare must return to the negotiating table, and Blue Cross Blue Shield must honor the contractual obligations made to the state," Deal said in a statement. "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."
Without a renewed agreement, Blue Cross patients have no negotiated price cap when visiting Piedmont hospitals or doctors, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported . Blue Cross assigns higher costs such as co-pays for them.
The University System of Georgia employees have Blue Cross as a major option. They are ready to absorb a month's worth of cost from the impasse.
"There's no way for us to predict how this is going to evolve," Piedmont executive Matt Gove told WABE-TV.
Piedmont Healthcare has 11 hospitals along with a new one in Columbus, Georgia. Clearview Regional Medical Center in Monroe, Georgia, officially joined the Atlanta-based system, becoming its 11th hospital.