Thousands of workers have been in limbo since the middle of last year. That's when the state dumped its contract with the Urbana-based provider. Currently, all state workers are getting care under a one year emergency contract extension with Health Alliance and Coventry. Both have had state contracts for years.
Last year, the state went with Blue Cross instead. It said the switch would save taxpayers $1 billion. There was a problem, though. Blue Cross does not have many doctors downstate. More than a dozen counties have no Blue Cross network access at all. That left state workers with few options.
An audit of the Blue Cross contract in early 2012 found further problems with the bidding process. The state was forced to scrap the idea and start the contract bidding over.
Health Alliance and Coventry won new contracts which run through 2016. They can be renewed up to another five years. State workers can breathe a sigh of relief as the emergency extension deal comes to an end.