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Ga. teachers protest benefits change

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 10:48 AM
Last updated 7:11 PM
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ATLANTA -- About 100 teachers used a furlough day or part of their winter break to bring their complaints to lawmakers Tuesday about changes in the State Health Benefit Plan.

Teachers on furlough or winter break hold homemade signs during a rally on the Capitol steps Tuesday for the group Teachers Rally Against Georgia Insurance Changes or T.R.A.G.I.C. They complain that alterations in the State Health Benefit Plan for teachers, state workers and retirees at the beginning of this year have forced them to pay more out of pocket for treatments and medicines.   MORRIS NEWS SERVICE/Walter Jones
MORRIS NEWS SERVICE/Walter Jones
Teachers on furlough or winter break hold homemade signs during a rally on the Capitol steps Tuesday for the group Teachers Rally Against Georgia Insurance Changes or T.R.A.G.I.C. They complain that alterations in the State Health Benefit Plan for teachers, state workers and retirees at the beginning of this year have forced them to pay more out of pocket for treatments and medicines.

The changes took effect Jan. 1, the day Cherokee County Teacher Nate Cline and his wife formed a Facebook group called Teachers Rally Against Georgia Insurance Changes, or T.R.A.G.I.C. By the end of that day, it had 400 members. Now it has ballooned to 14,000.

“Thank you TRAGIC for standing up for those of us who won’t stand up for ourselves,” said Beth Odom, a retired teacher from Richmond Hill near Savannah.

When the group first gained publicity, Gov. Nathan Deal brushed it off as grumbling instigated by the insurance company that had lost the state’s contract to administer the plan. Weeks later, he responded by instructing the Community Health Board that oversees the plan to make changes that will take effect next month.

But the teachers wearing green and waving homemade signs in the hot sun on the Capitol steps Tuesday said the modifications weren’t enough for them.

“This is a Band-Aid on an ax wound,” said Ashley Cline, Nate’s wife. “...We are hurting. We are angry. We are not going away.”

Cobb County band teacher John Palmer said the original changes were made to introduce “consumerism” to the plan so that the covered teachers and employees would make treatment choices that have personal financial consequences because more of the money would be coming out of their own pockets.

“They want us to have the consequences of using our healthcare so taxpayers can save a few pennies,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Community Health has said the changes were based on comments from employees about the steadily rising premiums. So the agency crafted the plan to hold premiums level but requiring payment of a deductible and sharing in the cost of treatments up to the first few thousand dollars, depending on the option chosen.

Most of the TRAGIC members were in a health maintenance organization no longer offered, and they never had to pay deductibles before the Jan. 1.

Cobb County teacher Kimberly Snider said her monthly prenatal doctor visits that used to require a $30 copayment now take $300 each until she satisfies her deductible. And she is bracing for her share of the delivery charges.

“At this point, it would be cheaper for me to quit my job, go on Medicaid and let the taxpayers pay for my baby,” she said.

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corgimom
31448
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corgimom 02/19/14 - 12:07 pm
5
4
Giving up a job and thinking

Giving up a job and thinking that would be cheaper than paying a few thousand dollars for a delivery is absurd.

corgimom
31448
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corgimom 02/19/14 - 12:08 pm
5
4
If she can't afford the

If she can't afford the deductible, how on Earth is she going to be able to support her child?

bright idea
782
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bright idea 02/19/14 - 01:32 pm
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1
Another byproduct

of Obamacare. Georgia dumped UHC for BCBS as a shortcut to meeting mandates of Obamacare laws. It was going to cost teachers and state employees more either way but they ended up with an inferior product to boot. Deal also trying to gain favor before election by suggesting a 2-3% pay raise while many school systems are still on furlough days. Not as bad as when Perdue tried to dip into retirement funds but just as sneaky.

NrthAugustaSam
473
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NrthAugustaSam 02/19/14 - 01:48 pm
4
2
Teachers should unite

Teachers should stay united on this issue and spread the word to throw Deal out of office. Especially here in Augusta he is seen supporting Azziz at GRU and we have all seen the fiasco with the storm in Atlanta 2 weeks ago. Take whatever raise he gives, but know that he would not plan anything next year. Throw him out of office - stay united and get stronger!

itsanotherday1
42197
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itsanotherday1 02/20/14 - 12:58 am
7
2
I'm all for throwing Deal

I'm all for throwing Deal out, as I never wanted him to begin with. He is a snake in the grass as far as I'm concerned; but he is MY snake if it comes to him or a liberal Democrat. Dump him in the primary.

KSL
126739
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KSL 02/20/14 - 01:42 am
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2
Just wondering how many of

Just wondering how many of these people voted Obama. Apparently they liked their healthcare prior to Obamacare.

avidreader
3119
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avidreader 02/20/14 - 06:53 am
3
3
Deal Makes a Deal!

United Health Care offered us a wonderful plan. With BC/BS we are now paying more for a terrible plan with overwhelming deductibles. I realize that all citizens have to sacrifice during hard times, but the state and counties continue to peck away at our lives.

A lot of sneaky dealings went on with the removal of United Health in favor of BC/BS. Google it! Mr. Deal is going to find it tough to get support from Georgia's teachers. He's lost my vote, and I will raise my voice in pecking away at his livelihood.

Little Lamb
45331
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Little Lamb 02/20/14 - 08:41 am
2
1
Affordable Care Act

Deductibles (high deductibles at that) are the natural consequence of Obamacare. Gone are the days of $10 co-pays. Everyone else will be in a high-deductible insurance plan. The teachers will have to join in.

Little Lamb
45331
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Little Lamb 02/20/14 - 08:42 am
3
0
Primary

The primary elections are just three months away. Nathan Deal has a primary challenger. Throw Deal out in May.

Bizkit
30785
Points
Bizkit 02/20/14 - 09:35 am
3
1
Where are all the progressive

Where are all the progressive sympathizers? The ACA isn't about savings (CBO says no savings just more debt), not about reduced cost either (majority will pay more), not about insuring more people (in ten years still 30 mill uninsured), but about social justice. The chickens have come home to roost-so it's time to sacrifice. That's right Obama wants you to sacrifice and endure for social justice, because with the ACA everyone is going to pay-one way or the other. Without the ACA mandates and insurance minimums none of the changes would have occurred. All states are wheeling and dealing trying to address the ACA mandate. Gosh you don't hear the 1% complain about unfair progressive tax rate, or paying extra taxes to foot the ACA, or paying more for the same benefits as those who pay little to nothing.

KSL
126739
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KSL 02/20/14 - 09:42 am
2
1
avidreader

Was that great plan offered before or after obamacare?

soapy_725
43676
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soapy_725 02/20/14 - 09:55 am
0
0
Who is not paying higher premiums & deductibles? Who?
Unpublished

Who is not paying higher premiums & deductibles? Who?

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 02/20/14 - 09:56 am
0
0
The teachers union golden umbrella may be leaking. So what.
Unpublished

Everyone is feeling the pain of "non healthcare".

Bizkit
30785
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Bizkit 02/20/14 - 10:46 am
3
2
Why is everyone mad at Deal

Why is everyone mad at Deal (I don't care for him either) over this issue? Why not blame Obama-the root of the problem. Deal is trying to navigate a disaster of a government health plan that we now know will not save money but increase our debt, will leave 30 million uninsured, health care cost still increase, 2.3 million will opt out of working lowering GDP, and it is an excellent example of why people should never support Dems (because not a single Rep supported it) because they voted for a law they hadn't read (perhaps if they had it wouldn't be such a cluster of incompetence) and they still support it though every single point promised has "proved" to be a blatant lie. Keep your eye on the ball-the problem isn't Deal it's Obama.

Little Lamb
45331
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Little Lamb 02/20/14 - 11:04 am
2
0
Bizkit

We're not mad at him because of Obamacare. We're mad at him for not firing Dr. Azziz and for not getting a decent name on the university.

Bizkit
30785
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Bizkit 02/20/14 - 01:57 pm
1
0
Well I agree with that too

Well I agree with that too Lamb-I'm on board too.

corgimom
31448
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corgimom 02/20/14 - 04:50 pm
0
1
I haven't had a $10 copay

I haven't had a $10 copay since the 1980's, and I've managed just fine.

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