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Public hearing canceled, lawmakers say Anthem, NGHS near agreement

The Dec. 30 hearing about negotiations between the Northeast Georgia Health System and Anthem has been canceled as the two parties continue to negotiate.

State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, State Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn, and representatives from NGHS and Anthem had been scheduled to hear community input on negotiations between the insurer and the health system.

But Miller said Saturday that an agreement is “very, very close.”

Health system spokesman Sean Couch also said no agreement has been reached, but that both parties are still negotiating in good faith.

“NGHS and Anthem are actively engaged in negotiations and meeting regularly to work out mutually agreeable terms. At this time, the parties are down to finalizing language pertaining to a handful of items. Both parties are working diligently and intently on finalizing an agreement.”

The health system has been out-of-network with Anthem since Oct. 1, although NGHS has said it will treat patients as in-network through Dec. 31. A judge issued an injunction that will keep the system’s Gainesville and Braselton hospitals, as well as Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, as Anthem locations through Feb. 7, 2020.

Miller and England said in a statement that “with many thousands of Georgians potentially burdened by the ongoing dispute,” reaching an agreement by Jan. 1 was the goal.

“Our members and their families expect and deserve to have the coverage they’ve chosen and paid for each month kept available to them,” Miller and England said in the statement.

Negotiations to renew the five-year contract between Anthem and NGHS began in January.

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