Three state officials praised Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s decision to allow three insurance companies for the state’s low-income children and families to sign up doctors separately from those interested in her new Charter Oak Health Plan.
“We now urge the next vital step of opening the administrative process so that more Managed Care Organizations or insurers can participate and more providers can offer opportunities for health care,” Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Monday.
He said since the state has now changed the terms of the initial contract, it should re-open the process to allow other insurance companies to bid on the five-year $3.5 billion contract. “We’re not only recommending it or suggesting it, we’re saying it’s almost a legally necessary step at this point to avoid challenges,” Blumenthal said.
But Rell said she was not convinced the entire contract needed to be re-bid.
Rell told a group of three reporters later Monday afternoon that she didn’t think it was necessary to re-bid the entire contract.
“As far as going out for another RFP [request for proposal] remember that we had not bid on Husky in over 10 years. So the bids have already taken place. If there’s any discussion on Anthem per say—though I don’t know if that’s what they were talking about—Anthem refused to comply with the FOI rules and regulations. When the RFP was submitted they did not even bid, so I don’t see any change is necessary,” Rell said Monday.
“I don’t feel that we’ve changed the terms,” Rell said. “All we’ve said is that they don’t have to do them simultaneously.”
Department of Social Services Commissioner Michael Starkowski wrote this letter back to the three state officials Monday confirming Rell’s statements.
A representative from Anthem, an insurance company that chose in March not to bid on the contract, expressed interest in participating Friday at the Medicaid Managed Care Council meeting, if it didn’t have to sell both Husky and Charter Oak Health at the same time.
“Anthem has been primarily concerned with making certain our members have continued non-disrupted access to quality health care. If the State determines that a new RFP is required or desirable, we will evaluate the RFP requirements after we have had a chance to review them,” Sarah Yeager of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield said Monday in an emailed statement.
Two of the three insurance companies that were awarded the contract have had difficulty building a network of doctors and hospitals willing to accept the state’s two insurance products. Community Health Network of Connecticut, the third insurance company, has been more successful in securing medical providers because it has been administering the Husky program for a decade.
State Health Care Advocate Kevin Lembo said the challenges the state faces in putting the contract out to bid again is making sure those already enrolled in both Husky and Charter Oak continue to get the care they need during the transition.
Lembo and Blumenthal said if the state expedites the process it can award the new bids by the end of January 2009.
Putting the contract out to bid again also presents the state with some opportunities, Lembo said.
“I would recommend in the new RFP that we’re sure and that we focus on this significantly sicker, older, and more vulnerable population Charter Oak is attracting,” Lembo said. He said now that the state knows what type of population the governor’s new program for uninsured adults is attracting it can require more efficiency in the networks of doctors it needs to service that population.
He said Husky members also should be given the opportunity to move back to a plan that is adequate to meet their needs during the transition time.