Louisiana kicks off new search for Medicaid contractors

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana has restarted its bid process for multibillion dollar Medicaid contracts managing the health care of nearly 1.6 million people, trying to end its patchwork of emergency contracts after a legal dispute scuttled the last attempt at new deals.

The Department of Health has released its request for proposals from contractors interested in handling the taxpayer-financed Medicaid managed care work, with a Sept. 3 deadline for submissions. The agency hopes to choose the new contractors in November, though it would take months longer for the companies to take over the work.

Until new contractors are chosen, the health department said it intends to continue its existing emergency deals with the five companies currently managing Medicaid services: Aetna Better Health, AmeriHealth Caritas of Louisiana, Healthy Blue, Louisiana Healthcare Connections and United Healthcare of Louisiana.

Health Department Secretary Courtney Phillips announced in August that she would redo the Medicaid managed care contractor search, rather than continue a yearlong legal fight over the deals that her predecessor approved. In a statement, she said the department “completed national research to ensure we are implementing evidence-based practices” in the latest solicitation for bids.

The managed care contracts account for roughly one-quarter of Louisiana’s annual operating budget and cover the health care for one-third of Louisiana’s residents. They allow private companies to oversee health care services for about 90% of Louisiana’s Medicaid enrollees — mostly adults covered by Medicaid expansion, pregnant women and children.

The new contracts will be awarded for up to five years, according to the bid solicitation.

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