Louisiana health department wants Medicaid contract search do-over

By | August 24, 2020

Dive Brief:

  • Louisiana’s health department wants to withdraw its intent to award contracts to four managed care organizations and instead start a new bidding process, according to a Friday press release. A protest period created by a legal dispute over the awards has delayed implementation.
  • Courtney Phillips, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, said the disputed request for proposals are almost two years old and the department decided it’s in its best interest to issue a new and revised request for contracts.
  • Medicaid enrollees would still be covered under existing emergency contracts with Aetna Better Health, AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana, Healthy Blue, Louisiana Healthcare Connections and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan until new contracts are awarded and in place.

Dive Insight:

If cleared by the Louisiana Division of Administration, the state agency tasked with overseeing state spending, the request could end a long-standing legal debate among insurers fighting for those lucrative contracts.

The state’s total Medicaid budget is $ 13.8 billion and covers about 1.6 million residents.

In August 2019, the health department announced it would contract with AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana, Healthy Blue, Humana Health Benefit Plan of Louisiana and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan to cover its residents on Medicaid.

Centene and Aetna, which previously held Medicaid contracts with the state, were left out. They filed protests against the health department claiming it mishandled the bidding process.

Louisiana’s state procurement officer tossed the contracts in January after determining the health department “arbitrarily and capriciously” made changes to its scoring guide after the process began that rendered the RFP evaluation “fatally flawed.”

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The protest period dragged on and delayed implementation of the awards. According to the health department release, “a protest period followed this announcement along with extensions on a decision regarding the protest.”

Withdrawing the outstanding request for proposals would end the pending protest appeal.

If the request is approved, the health department will start drafting a new request for proposals that it plans on publishing next year. Although details of the RFP cannot be discussed until publishing, the department said there will be a “renewed focus on moving the needle on Louisiana’s health rankings and improving the health of all Louisiana residents.”

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