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      Controversy continues over Dougherty County health plan

      Chris Glover works for AFLAC, the company that has handled the supplemental insurance benefits for Dougherty County employees for the last 8 years.

      But this year, Dougherty County commissioners decided it was time for a change in the county's health insurance plan and went shopping.

      Glover said that he and other local businesses were shut out of that process.

      "At no time were any of the insurance agencies in this town or myself, in particular, consulted for either our opinions or for pricing," said Glover.

      County commissioners, however, said they were facing a $2.5 million healthcare budget shortfall and that something had to be done.

      "You TMve got to start saving and retaining some moneys," said Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard. "Otherwise, it could be catastrophic to where at some point in the future, you would not be able to provide the kind of plans the employees need."

      Chairman Sinyard said that under the new health insurance plan, employees and taxpayers will get the maximum benefit possible for the money they put in.

      Mr. Glover said that his main concern was not the loss of the account. He thinks the failure to include local businesses in the process damages Dougherty County TMs ability to prosper and grow.

      "As other businesses try to get into town, wanting to plant their businesses " here the Chamber works with them on a daily basis, trying to draw fresh new businesses into this community," said Glover. "That sends a bad message to them."

      Commissioner Lamar Hudgins thinks a local-business-only approach would be a mistake.

      "It would more than likely cost the taxpayers more money if you just become completely isolated from the rest of the other businesses and competition, " said Hudgins.