Georgia News

Georgia Department of Community Health Awards Health Plan Contracts

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The Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) has announced the additional vendors for the state’s health care coverage for state employees, teachers, school system employees, retirees and dependents during the 2015 Plan Year, which begins on January 1, 2015. Vendors were selected following the Invitation for Proposal (IFP) process, which began in April 2014.

United HealthCare has been selected to offer SHBP members the option of a statewide HMO, a statewide High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and a statewide Medicare Advantage option for retirees. Kaiser Permanente has been selected to offer SHBP members a fully insured, in-network-only plan in the metro Atlanta service area. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGa) remains a vendor for 2015 and will offer SHBP members the options one of three traditional Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) options (Gold, Silver or Bronze), statewide Medicare Advantage to retirees, and a statewide HMO option.

The current Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) contract with Express Scripts Inc. and the current Wellness contract with Healthways Inc. will be renewed for the 2015 plan year.

“The Department of Community Health has provided plan members with more new choices to find the health care plan that’s best for their families. We appreciate the cooperation of Blue Cross Blue Shield on contractual issues so that we can expand the number of options available to plan members,” said Governor Nathan Deal.

“We heard and listened to our members and providers concerns regarding the 2014 plan choices. We have worked to provide short-term relief this year. Today we announce the plan will offer more vendor and insurance option choices in the upcoming year. I am confident this enhanced package will benefit our members and plan providers around the state,” said DCH Commissioner Clyde L. Reese III, Esq.

SHBP is currently working to finalize the 2015 plan designs and 2015 premiums. As in previous years, the new plan designs and premiums will be presented to and voted on by the Board of Community Health in August 2014.

SHBP will conduct in-person and online member outreach and education on members’ plan options prior to and during the state’s Open Enrollment and Retiree Change Option Period. As information is developed, SHBP members can expect to receive information from their payroll location and made available online at: www.dch.georgia.gov/shbp.

Open Enrollment will be held October 27 – November 14, 2014, for the January 1, 2015, start date of the new plan year.

About the Georgia Department of Community Health

Through effective planning, purchasing and oversight, the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) provides access to affordable, quality health care to millions of Georgians, including some of the state’s uninsured and most vulnerable populations.

DCH is responsible for Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids,® the State Health Benefit Plan, Healthcare Facility Regulation and Health Information Technology in Georgia.

Clyde L. Reese III, Esq., serves as Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Community Health.

To learn more about DCH and its dedication to A Healthy Georgia, visit www.dch.georgia.gov.

Georgia Tourism Launches New Vacation and Travel Planning Website

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Just in time for Independence Day, Georgia Tourism, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, has launched the state’s newly redesigned tourism website. ExploreGeorgia.org now offers visitors fresh custom features including the new Georgia Trip Planner, shareable trip ideas, interactive maps and much more.

“ExploreGeorgia.org is now loaded with new technology like Smart Content, which will help deliver the right content to the right potential visitor at the right time, providing users with exactly what they are looking for,” said Kevin Langston, deputy commissioner for tourism for the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “The responsive design gives it an effortless and seamless transition between computers, smartphones and tablets.”

The enhancements made to ExploreGeorgia.org focus on all aspects of the consumer’s travel decision-making process. The site offers inspirational content for planning and booking to sharing trip ideas on social media. One key component of the new site is the ability to create a shareable itinerary by adding tourism sites to the new Georgia Explorer Trip Planner. The Georgia Explorer Trip Planner provides visitors with a customized approach to exploring the website by organizing and mapping out the things they want to see and do in Georgia.

At the heart of the site is new engaging content with featured articles, itineraries, top-ten lists, must-see attractions, and the Explore Georgia blog. Not only will visitors find information about iconic Georgia destinations, attractions, accommodations and events, but the brand new easy-to-navigate website also features:

  • Slide shows and image galleries
  • interactive maps
  • travel deals and packages
  • trip ideas
  • a complete list of dining options

Additions to the site create greater exposure for the state’s thousands of tourism partners – making it easy for potential travelers to find and access tourism partners’ profile pages where they can find directions through Google Maps, nearby attractions, information and amenities, and deals all in one location. For the first time ever, Georgia Tourism partnered with the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) to incorporate the association’s complete list of restaurants on the state’s tourism website.

ExploreGeorgia.org is Georgia Tourism’s main marketing tool in distributing travel information to visitors throughout the world. The advanced functionality and new design incorporates inspirational content encouraging visitors to plan their next vacation in Georgia.

About GDEcD

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state’s sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a destination for arts events and location for film, music and digital entertainment projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development. www.georgia.org

DECAL commissioner to head Division of Family and Children Services

Governor Nathan Deal has announced that Bobby Cagle will become the interim director of the Division of Family and Children Services, leaving his position as commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning. Cagle will replace Director Sharon Hill, who is leaving to serve at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. Amy Jacobs, senior policy adviser for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, will replace Cagle as interim commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning.

“We have no greater responsibility than caring for our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” Deal said. “It is clear there is a need for a more deliberate reform process of the child welfare system, and we are taking action on several fronts. We must work to ensure that our children are safe and that they get their best shot at a good life. Commissioner Cagle has been a longtime champion of child care and early education, playing a vital role in administering our nationally recognized Pre-K program alongside a number of other responsibilities. I have no doubt that Commissioner Cagle will serve our state well in his new role.”

In March of this year, Deal created the Child Welfare Reform Council and council members have met twice to discuss possible executive agency reforms and legislative fixes to improve our state’s child welfare system. Reform recommendations from the council will be presented to the governor this fall. To streamline the review process and efficiently evaluate recommendations, the Division of Family and Children Services will report directly to the Governor’s Office.

The governor also tapped Katie Jo Ballard to serve as the deputy interim director of the Division of Family and Children Services, leaving her role as executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families.

These appointments take effect Monday, and individuals will serve on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is named.

Bobby Cagle

Cagle serves as commissioner of Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Previously, he served as the director of legislative and external affairs for the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. He also served as the family services director for DFCS and was responsible for statewide policy and program development in the areas of child welfare, domestic violence, sexual assault and provider contracting. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Child Care Administrators (NASCCA) and the National Advisory Board of the Center on Enhancing Learning Outcomes. Cagle earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Amy Jacobs

Jacobs is the senior policy adviser for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. She began her career at OPB in 2001 in the planning, research and evaluation division where her work focused on strategic planning and program evaluation. Also while at OPB, she served as director of the Education Division and the General Government Division. Prior to that, she worked for two years in the Georgia Court of Appeals. She is a member of the Governor’s Innovation Fund Advisory Board. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia. She and her husband, John, are members of Northside United Methodist Church. They have two children and reside in Mableton.

Katie Jo Ballard

Ballard currently serves as executive director of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families. She is co-chairman of the Georgia Children’s Cabinet along with First Lady Sandra Deal and co-founder and current board chair of Georgia Cares. She also serves on the Agency Leadership Team, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Crime Victim’s Compensation Board, Ready by 21 Leadership Council, the Supreme Court’s Justice for Children Committee and the Criminal Justice Reform Council. Ballard earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Georgia. She and her husband, Dylan, are members of Buckhead Church and reside in Atlanta.