Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Friday that she’s “obviously disappointed” Anthem and its subsidiaries decided not to bid on the HUSKY health insurance plan for low-income children and families, which was put out to bid along with her new Charter Oak Health plan for uninsured adults.
Bids were due by 3 p.m. today.
On March 12, Anthem’s President David Fusco, wrote a letter to the Department of Social Services telling it Anthem, which currently handles the largest percentage of HUSKY enrollees, will not be bidding on the joint contract for the two health insurance plans. Fusco’s letter expressed, among other things, concerns about Rell’s resolve to enforce the Freedom of Information Act.
“The bottomline for us is real simple, if you comply with the FOI regulations, then you’re allowed to bid,” Rell said Friday at a press conference following the monthly Bond Commission meeting.
Fusco said FOI compliance would “place too great a security risk for Anthem’s proprietary information unrelated to the HUSKY program.”
But Fusco’s letter also highlighted other concerns, which the Democrat-controlled Human Services Committee has tried to address through two pieces of legislation, one of which Rell has already threatened to veto.
“We continue to have concerns about inadequate state funding for full risk HUSKY A and B programs and the new Charter Oak program,” Fusco wrote.
The Department of Social Services “hasn’t been able to get the rate increases out the door,” Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, said Friday following the governor’s press conference. “It’s just inefficiencies as far as I’m concerned.”
Rell said the Department of Social Services, which administers the Medicaid funds, has been “swamped with a number of details that have to be met before some monies can go out.” She said she did have a conversation with DSS Commissioner Michael Starkowski and directed him to spend all the funds the agency has.
Harp said there’s been extra money in many of the Medicaid accounts for years, which is why the Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee budget, released earlier this week, lowered estimates in many of those accounts to reflect more realistic numbers.
Rell said by doing that the Democrats are just creating deficiencies in those accounts, which shortchanges areas “we’re required by law to fund.”
It’s a like homeowner planning to spend $800 on fuel oil, when they spent $1,200 the previous year, Rell said.
Harp offered a different analogy: “Do we go without food, if we have $100,000 in our savings account?”
Robert Genuario, Rell’s budget secretary, said admittedly the bidding process for some programs administered by the Department of Social Services was more time consuming than necessary, and at some point around November or December the administration allowed the agency to waive the bidding process to get those programs out the door.
Appropriations Co-Chairwoman, Rep. Denise Merrill, D-Mansfield, said, “If we have to RFP thousands of contracts it will bring government to its knees.” She said there was never any indication when these programs were approved that they would need to be competitively bid.
Harp said they decided to use the bidding process to change the legislative intent of these programs.
When asked if the Department of Social Services needed more employees to get these programs going, Harp said “when we give them more money for staff, they don’t hire more people.”