While John Bel Edwards is busy campaigning and promoting his Medicaid expansion program, the bidders for the next round of multibillion-dollar contracts to manage health services for Medicaid patients are accusing the Edwards administration of bias and conflicts of interest.
According to a report from the Associated Press, both Republican AND Democratic lawmakers are worrying publicly about whether health care access will be disrupted for half a million Medicaid enrollees, many of whom are in Edwards' expansion program.
Even Democratic U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond sent a letter to Governor Edwards arguing that Louisiana's health department has been plagued by technology problems that would likely make it difficult to shift patients to new health plans without "at least some of these patients falling through the cracks for a time."
Several lawmakers from both parties have publicly questioned how Humana Health Benefit Plan of Louisiana, which hasn't done Medicaid managed care work in the state but was handed a contract by the Edwards’ administration, will quickly ramp up to service a new health plan without a network of doctors, clinics and hospitals available to Medicaid patients.
The Governor and his health department are defending the bid evaluation and contractor selection, saying it followed the detailed requirements laid out in Louisiana procurement law.
"We anticipate that we're going to be able to move forward without any interruption in services," the Governor assured us. Unfortunately for the Governor, he was promptly contradicted by his administration’s own health department, which asserted in that there would likely be claims made in the paperwork filed with the state procurement office about the dispute over the contracts.
In a letter to Louisiana's chief procurement officer, the Louisiana Department of Health warned that if the ongoing legal challenges caused delays in contract negotiations, that could "disrupt and jeopardize the provision of health care to more than one million of Louisiana's most vulnerable citizens”.
This controversy is just getting started and will likely ramp up over the next few weeks.
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