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GA health plan nearly out of money

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 19, 2010

The state fund that pays health insurance claims for state workers is running out of money, and state officials are taking “immediate action” to keep it from going broke by the spring, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned. The State Health Benefit Plan, which pays health insurance claims for 680,000 state workers, retirees and their dependents, has seen its surplus of more than $472 million greatly reduced by budget cuts and work force reductions, said Lisa Marie Shekell, spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Health. While the plan has enough money to pay current bills, it could run out of money by next spring, said DCH interim chief financial officer Scott Frederking. State health officials are moving with urgency to prop up the fund with a rapid infusion of money. They plan to raise the health insurance premiums of workers and retirees by about 10% in January. That represents the second hike in two years, resulting in a combined 20% jump in premiums.