Alleging legal aid attorneys are ruining their contractual relationship with interested bidders, the Department of Social Services is asking Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to allow it to hire outside legal counsel to deal with the situation.

DSS says legal aid attorneys interfered with the bidding process when it sent
this letter to bidders interested in managing the HUSKY health insurance program for low-income families and Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s new Charter Oak Health Insurance for uninsured adults.

In this letter to Blumenthal, DSS Commissioner Michael Starkowski, wrote, “I believe that the letter from these legal services attorneys to the companies that have submitted these Letters of Intent to bid on a contract with the state constitutes tortious interference with the Department’s prospective contractual relations with these companies.”

However, legal aid attorneys like Sheldon Toubman of New Haven feel they’ve done nothing wrong by sending the letters.

In an email Friday, Toubman wrote, “We are extremely surprised to learn of Commissioner Starkowski’s letter. Our concern all along has been and continues to be the welfare of our low-income clients who receive health care through the HUSKY program. We hope that rather than responding to litigation, we will be able to continue to work with the Dept to improve heath care for our clients.”

In the second paragraph of Toubman’s letter to a potential bidder, it says, “We are writing to you because we have been involved for many years in advocating on behalf of our low-income clients enrolled in the HUSKY A program, in terms of trying to address access problems under the participating HUSKY A plans and holding those plans accountable so that the coverage on paper was in fact delivered to our clients.”

Toubman’s letter goes on to talk about the problems the HUSKY program has experienced and makes reference to future litigation over the HUSKY and Charter Oak Health Plan being combined into one RFP.

Mr. Starkowski’s letter says, “For the legal services attorneys to hint, in any way, that the Department has been anything but honest and forthright concerning what is expected of potential bidders for this RFP is disingenuous and in bad faith.”

“This attempted intimidation of potential bidders, done with the obvious intention of interfering with the Department’s ability to enter into contracts with them, and the attempted tainting of the integrity of the State of Connecticut’s procurement process, must be stopped,” Starkowski wrote.

Blumenthal was copied on Toubman’s letters to potential bidders when they were sent on Feb. 5 and his office has been on the side of legal aid attorneys during its court battle to get three of the four managed care organizations to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information laws.

Stay tuned to find out Monday what Blumenthal decides to do.