Insurer uses full-court press to regain state contract | www.myajc.com

26
Sep

Insurer uses full-court press to regain state contract | www.myajc.com

You may have seen the commercials during last weekend’s Falcons’ game: “Sadly, the freedom to choose is being taken away from many Georgians by a small group of politicians in Atlanta,” the announcer intones after images of free, smiling Americans sharpen and then fade.

The ad says that Georgia’s workers, teachers and retirees are being stripped of their choice of health care plans and that citizens should rise up and condemn this threat to liberty.

What the ad doesn’t say is that it is less about freedom than hundreds of millions of dollars for one of the biggest insurers in the state. It doesn’t say that UnitedHealthcare, which is behind the campaign, lost a big state contract to its rival Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, and that United wants it back. It doesn’t say that United has taken the state to court, that it is accusing the Department of Community Health of “state-sponsored bid rigging” or that it’s backing campaign-style commercials to try to enlist your help in winning back the business.

UnitedHealthcare is using the same tactics candidates typically use to win elections, running social media and TV campaigns to persuade the more than 600,000 teachers, employees, retirees and dependents on the State Health Benefit Plan to put pressure on Gov. Nathan Deal, lawmakers and agency board members. One lawmaker said United is leaving the impression that officials are promoting a kind of Obamacare, considered a slur by Republican leaders who run the state.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Robert Highsmith, a statehouse lobbyist and lawyer representing Express Scripts, which won the Department of Community Health’s contract to provide pharmacy benefits to the group.

via Insurer uses full-court press to regain state contract | www.myajc.com.

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