Judge reverses Augusta commissioners' decision

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News 12 First at Five / Thursday, June 27, 2013

Augusta Commission - Augusta seal with skyline

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The relationship between a city consultant and a representative for Blue Cross Blue Shield is now being called a conflict of interest. Augusta commissioners will have to send that $20 million insurance contract back out for bid.

In part of his ruling, Superior Court Judge David Roper sided with Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason.

"Do you feel like saying I told you so?" asked News 12's Ryan Houston.

"It's not going to do any good at this point. What we need to do is address the situation," Mason said.

Meritan Health asked a judge to review the procurement process in the rewarding of the $20 million city insurance contract to Blue Cross Blue Shield. Judge Roper found several things wrong with how the procurement department and leaders handled it.

In the last few weeks, commissioners have spent hours debating on the trash, bus and ambulance service contracts. Just about each commissioner has found a problem with how those plans were put together.

"I'm down there every other week. I have a job, but I took the job. If I have to stay down there and do their job, pay me what you pay them. I can handle both jobs," said Commissioner Grady Smith.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield was still number three, even without the conflict of interest. There were a number of reasons why they shouldn't have been awarded that contract and Meritan should've won," Mason said.

Mason says even though he was right, it's more important that the system corrects their contract process.

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