Legal disputes stalling new Louisiana Medicaid contracts

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FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2019 file photo, Louisiana Health Secretary Rebekah Gee answers questions from the joint House and Senate budget committee about new contract awards for the Medicaid managed care program in Baton Rouge, La. Despite an ongoing challenge to the contract awards, Louisiana’s health department wants to continue negotiating terms with four companies chosen to manage Medicaid patient care, saying delays could put health services at risk. Gee filed the request Monday, Aug. 26 with Louisiana’s chief procurement officer Paula Tregre, who is reviewing the contract awards to determine if state law was properly followed. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Plans to shift more than 500,000 Louisiana Medicaid patients to new health plans by January will remain stalled.

The health department cannot negotiate terms with the four companies chosen to manage Medicaid patient care while legal disputes over the multibillion-dollar contract awards continue.

That was the decision issued Wednesday evening by Louisiana’s chief procurement officer Paula Tregre.

Two losing bidders are formally protesting the contract awards, accusing the health department of a biased bid review.

The health department wanted to continue moving ahead with new contracts, even as Tregre is determining whether state law was followed in the contract awards. The agency argued that delays could jeopardize services to Medicaid patients.

As she denied the department’s request, Tregre noted that agency leaders told lawmakers the legal disputes didn’t threaten services.

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