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Cancer survivor thanks governor for stepping in on deal between BCBS and Piedmont Health

GEORGIA — A day after Gov. Nathan Deal announced a “handshake agreement” from both Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Piedmont Healthcare in an ongoing contract dispute, there still is no signed final contract between the two sides.

That leaves close to 600,000 people, mostly state employees, with doctors who could be out-of-network.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Piedmont Healthcare have been in negotiations for months, but their contract lapsed April 1, prompting the governor to step in to try and get both sides to reach an agreement.

After a Monday meeting between him and the CEO’s of both companies failed to reach that agreement, Deal threatened “executive action” if the two sides couldn’t come together.

Wednesday, he tweeted that he finally had a “handshake agreement” from both Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Piedmont Healthcare, providing hope for many state employees and their families.


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“It’s just so relieving to know that the governor stepped in on our behalf,” said Neda Abghari of Dunwoody. Abghari’s husband is a state employee, and they are both on the state health benefit plan.

Abghari is a cancer survivor and new mother. Doctors declared her cancer-free, but she still needs one more round of treatments before she is done.

Ten days before giving birth to her daughter, she learned that because of the contract dispute, her cancer doctors were out of network. 

“The patients all pay their premiums on time,” said Abghari. “We do what we’re supposed to do on our end, and then to have the rug pulled out from under us? It’s not okay.”

Abghari thanked Deal for his actions and hopes the final contracts will be signed soon.

“We’re not in a situation to be able to have that pull,” Abghari said. "I was so relieved when I heard that he was putting his foot down.”

Officials with the governor's office said they were confident an agreement would be reached soon.