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Board wants PPMH and P&G on same page

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February 20, 2008

Albany --  The Hospital Authority of Dougherty County wants Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Procter and Gamble to cut a deal on health care costs. 

P&G has been a frequent, outspoken critic of Phoebe's prices, and says health care costs at the Albany plant are 36% higher than their other facilities around the country.

The Hospital Authority wants Procter and Gamble and Phoebe Putney Hospital to hammer out a health care arrangement to lower Procter and Gamble's health care cost issues.

"We are happy to sit down with any employer in our area," said Phoebe Putney Hospital Senior Vice President Dr. Frank Middleton. "Certainly Procter and Gamble and is a very important part of our community. We want to resolve any issues that we have."

But P&G's plant manager says the company does not want an arrangement with Phoebe for their costs alone.  "To the contrary, we don't want any special treatment at all," said Procter&Gamble Plant Manager Trey Bloodworth. "Particularly considering this area, Albany is the ninth poorest congressional district out of 435. It's not right for us to take a special deal that is not available to everyone in the community."

But Phoebe officials say it's not a special deal they want to arrange, as much as a plan that would supply their workers the best medical utilization at the lowest cost. 

Dr. Middleton said, "We believe we could put together a contract that would be very favorable for Procter and Gamble in that way."

P&G has taken the lead in the health care cost worries for many large industries in South Georgia, which has formed a lobby group, the Coalition for Affordable and Competitive Healthcare, called CACH, urging more competition as a way to control health care costs.

Bloodworth says the large industries are worried about those high health care costs for the entire community, because it is hurting the economic development of the entire region.

"Not just for us as a company, but we know how important it is for the entire community to prosper. So if it is an arrangement for the entire community, absolutely," Bloodworth said.

Phoebe officials say county health care studies show their costs are below average. CACH officials say their studies show those costs are among the highest in the nation. The Hospital Authority wants the two groups to sit down and try to find a solution that will benefit the entire community.

Hospital Authority Chairman Dr. Ernest Benson said letters trying to arrange this meeting should go out later this week.

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