Falcione: Health costs will kill jobs - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Falcione: Health costs will kill jobs

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September 20, 2006

Albany --  For a year, Albany's large industry has talked about their employees paying the highest cost for health care than anywhere in the nation. Now the President of the Coalition for Affordable and Competitive Healthcare, or CACH, told the Hospital Authority that their costs are still skyrocketing, despite their campaign.  

But all Hospital authority members would promise is to continue to investigate CACH's cost figures.    

CACH President Vince Falcione told the Hospital Authority little has changed for Procter and Gamble employees in Albany, and warned that jobs could be lost if health care costs continue to skyrocket in Southwest Georgia. "We are about lowering health care costs, to make us more competitive. It's about economic development," Falcione said.

But Falcione told the Authority that their employees are not paying the highest cost anymore. Another P&G plant in Henderson, North Carolina has topped Albany's plant employees cost for health care.

Falcione said that plant has only 100 employees, and had a couple of catastrophic medical problems that put their health care costs slightly above Albany's employees cost.

Phoebe C.E.O. Joel Wernick said CACH needs to provide more information. "The data that has been shared is old data. I think it's important for people to understand that we are dealing in the year 2006, and not the year 2003-2004."

Some Hospital Authority members say they take the industry leader's cry for help seriously. Hospital Authority Board Member Dr. Charles Gebhardt said "We have that responsibility. As hospital authority, we are public officials. The law clearly states that that is our responsibility."

But Hospital Authority Chairman Dr. Ernest Benson said they are waiting for an independent study of health care costs from the city, county, and chamber of commerce, before making any judgements. "We are going make a statement. We are going to draw some conclusions, and indicate where we think some adjustments need to be made, if adjustments need to be made."    

Falcione said that while Albany P&G employee health care costs may not be tops in the nation this month, their costs continue to rise.  

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