T.R.A.G.I.C. plans rally for state insurance choices
by Michelle Babcock
February 16, 2014 04:00 AM | 3065 views | 5 5 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Ashley Cline founder of T.R.A.G.I.C., has planned a rally at the State Capitol for Feb. 18 to speak out against the current Georgia insurance plans. <br>Staff/Todd Hull
Ashley Cline founder of T.R.A.G.I.C., has planned a rally at the State Capitol for Feb. 18 to speak out against the current Georgia insurance plans.
Staff/Todd Hull
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A group of teachers and state employees are gearing up for a trip to the state Capitol on Tuesday to rally for better insurance choices.

The group T.R.A.G.I.C., or Teachers Rally to Advocate for Georgia Insurance Choices, was started by Canton resident Ashley Cline in January one day after 2014 changes to the Georgia State Health Benefits Plan that left many teachers and other state employees unsatisfied with their insurance coverage choices.

“We’re having people wear green and bring an apple with a Band-Aid on it,” Cline said, “and we’re asking people to visit with their legislators after the rally since session is in.”

The rally is on the steps of the state Capitol at 1 p.m.

The group has amassed more than 13,500 members from across the state since it was created just less than a month ago, and Cline said this rally will bring more awareness to the insurance changes that took effect Jan. 1 this year.

“It’s mostly to bring awareness, and we’re also trying to have it be an advocacy rally, because something was done for 2014, but now we’re concerned about 2015 and beyond,” Cline said. “We’re not going away, we’re watching everything that’s happening, closely, and we will press forward and make sure this won’t happen again.”

After Gov. Nathan Deal’s office was flooded with hundreds of calls from members of T.R.A.G.I.C. in January, Deal said Jan. 27 he backed improvements to the plan that impacts more than 650,000 state employees.

But despite what Deal called improvements to the plan, Cline said the underlying problem was not fixed.

“We had a lot of people that are going to be negatively affected by this. A lot of people will save money, but again, we’re all being stuck with the same thing,” Cline said of the governor’s response. “I’m thrilled we were heard, but I’m worried about our family next year. I don’t want an 11-month Band-Aid, and then for this to happen all over again.”

Cline said the main issue with this year’s State Health Benefit Plan is that it only offers one type of plan from one company, instead of multiple plan options from multiple companies as in past years.

Cline said she expects a few hundred people to show up for the rally Tuesday, but said she hopes to “be pleasantly surprised” with a larger showing.

“A lot of people are bringing their families, too. I RSVP’d for one, but there’s four of us going. We’re all affected; if you’re covering your family, they are obviously impacted as well,” Cline said.

Highlights of the event are listening to guest speakers and meeting with legislators, and Cline encouraged people to make handmade signs for the event, but warned that poles and sticks are not allowed at the Capitol.

The event begins with a meet-up at 1 p.m. and speakers will begin at 1:15 p.m. At 2 p.m., Cline said the group is encouraging members to visit their legislators and express their concerns.

The state Capitol is located at 206 Washington Street Southwest, in Atlanta, and Cline said the group is meeting up at the steps outside the Capitol on the Washington Street side.

More information about the group’s rally at the state Capitol can be found online at its website at www.TragicGa.com.

Comments
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Mike In Smyrna
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February 16, 2014
I have a thought – the State of Georgia could eliminate health insurance as a benefit. Take the taxes budgeted for health insurance and proportion it among the employees as a salary increase. The employee could then purpose health insurance @ healthcare.gov.

I know that there are good people – that here are intelligent people, who are employed by the government sector. However, it is the holier than thou that make me set the newspaper down and count my blessings.

Before you rally - do your homework on the Affordable Care Act

R U 4 Real?
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February 17, 2014
Mike in Smyrna, an employee's health care plan is considered part of their compensation package. Thus, when there are no options (which promotes price competition) the cost will be higher for less services.

To continue this economic logic; teachers (and other state employees) will take a significant pay cut to make up the difference. Add this reality to the fact that there has not been a COLA nor pay raise in the last five years and it is a financial disaster for teachers.

Just to be crystal clear - To enter into the the Affordable Care Act would end in a significant net loss for teachers' compensation package. The homework you have requested - was done and received a grade of F minus grade.

Rally on teachers, hope Mike in Smyrna will now join you.
Cobb Parent
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February 17, 2014
Mike why don't you do your homework. ACA requires employers with over 50 employees to provide health insurance. Thanks for your condescending remarks.

It is not 'holier than thou' to bring up facts regarding Health Benefits for State employees.

Gov. Deal and the GOP are out to destroy public institutions/employees and replace them with 'for profit' corporations run by their 'buddies'. For profit prisons, DFACS,foster care, schools, plus pension and benefit destruction are all right out of the ALEC playbook.

Reminder that state employees and retiree's pay on average $300 per month in premiums. The premiums cover 80% of the claims. The Governor used the 'surplus' employee premiums to balance the state budget. Then they turn around and gut the health benefits plan for state employees by 'blaming' ACA all while claiming that the 'new' plan will save $200 million.

Mike maybe you should stop listening to FAUX News, Hannity and Limbaugh before you comment. Your bias toward state workers is blatant.
Mike In Smyrna
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February 17, 2014
I hit a nerve. If you believe that your compensation and benefits are not worthy, look for another job. I have worked in the government sector and I don't recall anyone being indentured

If the State of Georgia can outsource, save money and provide the same degree of service – it is a no brainier.

Kennesaw Resident
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February 17, 2014
@Mike in Smyrna, healthcare.gov is the last place I would buy insurance if my employer did not provide it. Costco would be a much better option!
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