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Gov. Deal’s tweet on Piedmont/Blue Cross Blue Shield imbroglio spurs wider conversation

piedmont hospital

Gov. Nathan Deal has sought to intervene in a contract dispute involving Piedmont Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia. The governor's tweet has sparked a broader conversation over health care in the state. Credit: cleatgeeks.com

By David Pendered

Gov. Nathan Deal has spurred a buzz on Twitter with his call for a meeting Monday with Piedmont Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to resolve a breakdown in negotiations that has left thousands of patients out of network for care.

Responses to the governor’s Tweet were swift and some were related to the contract dispute.

Others used the exchange to bring up issues ranging from Medicaid to health care for inmates of the state prison system .

Deal released the following tweet on April 11:

  • “I’ve called a meeting w/ @PiedmontHealth CEO & @AnthemInc GA CEO for Monday, 4/16. I expect an update on the progress both sides have made in reaching a resolution to this dispute. Georgia patients deserve stability from their health care plans & an immediate end to disruptions.”

A response attributed to Terry Powner observed:

  • “Thanks @GovernorDeal for banging their heads together to come to a deal. I know it’s not a big deal to the execs for both companies but to us little folks we are going without care while they keep getting richer.”

One attributed to Daniel Bernstein noted:

health care avatar

Sara Katherine Wilder’s avatar on Twitter. Credit: twitter.com

This one was attributed to Sara Katherine Wilder, whose profile identifies her as a mother of two, an educator and former Republican::

  • “Would be great if you would also be as concerned about the thousands of Georgians left out by your politically motivated decision (pandering to your bigoted base) to not take the available Federal Tax dollars to expand Medicaid. Try supporting ALL Georgians for a change.”

On the prison issue, a response posted by Oliver noted:

“You need to make sure your prisoners are getting proper care in the private prisons.”

This comment spurred an immediate response from Georgia Prisons, which has no profile:

  • “Prisoners aren’t getting proper medical care in state or private facilities, its very often too little, too late if ever and the prisoner greivance process for addressing issues is a complete joke. Prisoners have two choices stay healthy despite all odds or die.”

Susan T. Lynch, identified as a 911 dispatcher for 11 years, observed:

  • “I appreciate you following this but please remember state & uga employees are not the only ones effected. I have a very good friend who had finally found a doctor, now she can’t see him. He wants testing done & she is waiting approval, they have her life I’m their hands”
piedmont hospital

Gov. Nathan Deal has sought to intervene in a contract dispute involving Piedmont Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia. The governor’s tweet has sparked a broader conversation over health care in the state. Credit: cleatgeeks.com

Lynch’s comment recollects Deal’s comments when he entered the fray by issuing a statement on April 3.

In that statement, the governor noted that nearly 600,000 state employees, retirees and their family members are affected by the dispute. Among them are employees of the University System of Georgia, a group the governor said will have their out-of-network health care costs covered for up to 30 days.

The statement included this remark from Steve Wrigley, chancellor of the university system:

  • “We want to make sure University System of Georgia families have access to the care they need and this 30-day extension is a necessary step to provide coverage for our employees. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare must come to a quick resolution to this contract dispute so additional costs are not incurred by employees of the University System of Georgia and the state. We will continue to explore all options to ensure employees and their families have continued access to the healthcare they have been relying on through the University System of Georgia healthcare plans.”

Further, Deal said, “Blue Cross Blue Shield must honor the contractual obligations made to the state.” In the event that doesn’t transpire, state entities will “explore all possible solutions to ensure our members have access to health care.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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1 Comment

  1. Ben April 15, 2018 11:26 pm

    How disappointing that there is no mention that Piedmont Healthcare was involved in a similar contract dispute with United Healthcare less than 2 years ago. In that dispute Piedmont physicians were out of network for United Healthcare patients for months while the 2 parties bickered over terms.Report


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