State health care shift is on: Notes from a convention of… | Political Insider | www.ajc.com

8
Aug

State health care shift is on: Notes from a convention of… | Political Insider | www.ajc.com

At 10:17 a.m. Wednesday, a black-robed, bow-tied Judge Jerry Baxter sat down in Room 4D of the Fulton County courthouse and opened a three-day convention featuring some of the most expensive people in Atlanta.

Before the superior court judge was a small army of suits: CEOs, lobbyists and lawyers with silver-chain connections. The latter, by one charitable estimate, were clocking a combined $60,000 to $70,000 an hour during the four-hour process.

“When I see this many lawyers, I know there’s a heck of a lot of money floating around,” Baxter muttered at the outset.

Oh, yes. At stake was a five-year contract to manage the health insurance coverage of 650,000 state employees – including most public school teachers — and the $3 billion in claims they make each year.

It’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the insurance company that wins it.

The governing board of the state Department of Community Health is set to award the contract today to Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which would mean a shift in insurance coverage for every state employee come October.

Advocates of the switch say it would save the state up to $500 million a year – a savings that would allow Gov. Nathan Deal and state lawmakers to be generous elsewhere next year. With perhaps pay increases, or tax breaks – 2014 is an election year.

via State health care shift is on: Notes from a convention of… | Political Insider | www.ajc.com.

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