Health Alliance Receives 90-Day Extension

June 16, 2011

Most state and university employees could choose to stay on with their existing health care plans for the next three months.

A bipartisan legislative panel on Tuesday authorized the use of 90-day emergency health plans, which could include current insurers.

State officials announced Thursday that all HMOs and open access plans will stay in place for 90 days, with Humana being the only holdout. That means most current employees and retirees can stay with their current provider until October, with no further paperwork.

A controversial decision to drop some popular downstate insurance carriers led to a lawsuit now working its way through the courts. Mike Claffey is a spokesman for the agency that oversees employee benefits. He said because of the holdup caused by the lawsuit, these temporary plans were essential. But he said an end goal is securing more long-term health insurance plans.

"Whether the state has the authority to do that will be determined in the courts going forward and we hope that it will be resolved within the next 90 days so that we can have permanent health care plans in place," Claffey said.

Claffey said employees who want to switch their medical insurance need to make a final decision before the end of business on Friday.

It is unclear what happens when the three-month emergency health plans expire. Officials are considering an additional benefit enrollment period later this fall. The Department of Health Care and Family Services could decide to extend the temporary plans beyond 90 days.

To get updated information about benefit choice options leading up to Friday's open enrollment deadline, visit

Story source: AP