This summer, the state’s main health agency will pick the winners of a multibillion-dollar annual contract to deliver health care to more than 1 million Georgians.
The Department of Community Health also plans to choose a vendor this year to coordinate the care of Medicaid beneficiaries who are elderly or disabled.
Clyde Reese, the commissioner of Community Health, gave an update on both mega-contracts Thursday at an agency board meeting.
He also said the department is close to naming a Medicaid chief to replace Jerry Dubberly, who recently left the position for a job in the private sector. Reese told GHN that the search has narrowed to two candidates, and that he anticipates the naming of the new director within a month.
And he addressed the controversy over the elimination of health benefits for part-time school workers who do not have education certificates.
Gov. Nathan Deal’s budget plan has proposed eliminating coverage for school bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other such school employees who work less than 30 hours a week. The proposal has stirred criticism from some members of both parties in the Georgia General Assembly.
Reese told the Community Health board that the state’s employee and teacher health plan has been subsidizing the insurance coverage of part-time school workers by more than $2 billion over a six-year period.
An estimated 11,500 non-certificated public school employees working less than 30 hours per week, and about 10,303 covered dependents, could lose coverage if the Deal budget proposal is approved by the General Assembly, Community Health said.
Reese told GHN after the board meeting that he’s aware that “many people take these jobs just for insurance.”
He also acknowledged, “It seems there’s some sentiment for keeping them in’’ the State Health Benefit Plan.
The care management organization contract has attracted nine companies that have qualified to bid for the business, Reese said. They include the three current CMO vendors, Amerigroup, Peach State and WellCare. Also in the hunt are AmeriHealth Caritas, CareSource Georgia, Molina Healthcare, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Gateway Health Plan.
The state will select up to four companies for the contract, which could be worth a total of $4 billion annually, Reese said.
The second contract, for care coordination, involves a program that will be voluntary for beneficiaries in the “aged, blind and disabled’’ category of Medicaid. The state previously bid out the contract but pulled it back last year because bids came in “over budget,” officials said. They hope to complete the rebidding process this year.
Reese also said the recommendations from the Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee — formed to explore ways to keep more such hospitals from failing — will soon be sent to the governor. The ideas include initiatives on telemedicine and emergency services, Reese told the Community Health board, and would involve pilot projects.
Rural hospitals in Georgia, he said, “are under tremendous financial stress.”
The pilot projects will be funded with private donations and some state money. The goal, Reese said, “is to make some tangible progress in certain communities.”