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Augusta Commission to take up insurer's bid protest again

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 7:30 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 1:06 AM
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A bid protest that has some city employees worrying they might not have health insurance come Jan. 1 goes before the Augusta Commission again today.

The protest, filed by Meritain Health Inc., stems from the commission’s 6-2-1 decision Oct. 16 to convert to a self-funded insurance pool administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, the city’s current provider.

Aetna subsidiary Meri­tain, one of five insurers that bid on the contract, alleged unfairness in the process, which ranked Meritain highest under technical criteria but not the best value overall for a city starting a self-funded platform.

Commissioner Alvin Ma­son, a critic of the deal, has cited Meritain’s high technical rankings and the appearance of a conflict on the part of the city’s insurance consultant, Lisa Kelley, who declared earlier in the process that she had a relationship with a Savannah, Ga.-based Blue Cross sales representative.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge J. David Roper denied Meritain’s request for an emergency injunction against Augusta moving forward with Blue Cross, but said the city could be at risk if it signs a contract with that company before the bid protest is resolved.

The commission has twice been unable to agree on whether to accept City Administrator Fred Russell’s recommendation to deny the protest. A vote to reject it failed 5-3-1 on Nov. 26, with Mason, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles and Commissioner Bill Lock­ett voting no. Com­mis­sion­er J.R. Hatney’s motion to delay going self-funded for a year also failed that day.

A week before, similar motions both to accept and reject Russell’s recommendation also failed, each 4-4-1.

On Monday, Mason, who works in federal contracts at Fort Gordon, said the city should enter into a month-to-month contract with an insurer until the protest and likely ensuing litigation is resolved.

Russell and Commissioner Jer­ry Brigham said such a contract would be costly. Brigham said the commission would likely have to amend the 2012 budget to cover the added cost.

Also at today’s 5 p.m. meeting, the commission will vote on the first phases of implementing a stormwater fee to cover the cost of repairing aging stormwater infrastructure. A committee agreed last week to the initial phases but did not set the fee amount, which typically is billed to property owners based on the square footage of surfaces impervious to water, such as rooftops and parking lots.

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OpenCurtain 12/04/12 - 11:56 pm
Now the lawyers circle

looking for a meal ticket.

So far it looks like they have saved the taxpayers $$$.

Only time and lawyers will tell.

Riverman1 12/05/12 - 06:46 am
"On Friday, Superior Court

"On Friday, Superior Court Judge J. David Roper denied Meritain’s request for an emergency injunction against Augusta moving forward with Blue Cross, but said the city could be at risk if it signs a contract with that company before the bid protest is resolved."

So if the Commission approves Blue Cross, Judge Roper will probably grant the injunction to stop the process? What a mess. Open Curtain is right.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/05/12 - 10:00 am
Come On

From the story:

. . . cover the cost of repairing aging stormwater infrastructure. . . .

All infrastructure everywhere is aging. It cannot get any younger. This tiresome use of the word "aging" is lazy journalism.

Repairing infrastructure is one of the most basic responsibilities of government, ranking right behind providing police protection and a court system. Yet Augusta has neglected its responsibilities under the ruse of saying it can't afford to repair things. Hence, a new fee. Well, once the fee is in place, it will be ripe for increases down the road.

Tell your commissioner to vote NO! There are plenty of non-essential programs and personnel that can be cut to provide the funds for essential infrastructure repair.

soapy_725 12/05/12 - 11:14 am
The problem is they will not

repair the "aging system". If anything is done, not likely, they will begin replacing aging with new sewer projects. They will determine that new is more cost effective. They will suddenly find a federal law that mandates the separation of storm water and sewer water. Something ARC has not done. More concrete and asphalt.

Ask anyone in CC to show you the added benefits of The Rain Tax. CC, where is the super drain cleaner truck? Why do county employees blow leaves in the storm drains. The latest round in CC comes with a document that states "It is now the law". Infrastructure must be designed to manage storm water. Wow. Did we not think that this was part of development projects? Did we not think that water flows downhill without a pump? If you allow development in the middle of a swamp, you will have flooding issues? Fool thy name is ignorant taxpayer. In the CC Bible, "the wise man builds his house in the middle of the Euchee Creek".

F4therTime 12/05/12 - 11:17 am
When has something...

like a fair bidding process ever stopped this city from doing what it wants????

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