Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hawaii Medicaid, UnitedHealth and DC law firm Covington & Burling

Yesterday I reported that DC law firm Covington & Burling had received another extension of their contract with the state, with part of the purpose being to contribute to the 'reprocurement' of Hawaii's Medicaid contract for services for the state's aged, blind and disabled population.

C&B had already been paid for "legal and consulting services relating to the drafting and issuance of the RFP", to "facilitate the evaluation of the proposals in response to the RFP in Hawaii" , to "assist Med-QUEST in negotiating with health plans",  and to "assist Med-QUEST with developing answers to questions submitted by bidders".

The two companies awarded this contract are UnitedHealth and Wellcare.

Covington & Burling on their website notes they represented UnitedHealth "in federal criminal, SEC enforcement, and Congressional committee investigations."

Charles Miller, of Covington & Burling, has served as Special Deputy Attorney General to the state of Hawaii for issues related to the Department of Human Services and Med-QUEST.  He served in this position from November 2004 until at least June of 2008 (that's only per the records I've been able to find online).

As the mother of a child with disabilities, I find it worrisome that the same company that has represented UnitedHealth in federal criminal and SEC complaints is helping Hawaii redraft the contract for services to our disabled community.  David Heywood of UnitedHealth already told me that his company is in discussions with the state on how to reconceptualize EPSDT's definition of case management services, in response to my request for these services on my daughter's behalf.

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that there might be a conflict of interest here someplace.

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About Me

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I'm the mom of a child with disabilities. Hannah's first neurologist said she might never develop beyond the level of a 2 month old infant, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. The brain damage was just too severe. Nine years later, she walks, uses a touchscreen computer and I've just been shown she can learn to construct sentences and do simple math with the right piece of technology. Along the way, I discovered I needed to teach myself what Hannah's rights to services really were. Learning about early intervention services led to reading about IDEA and then to EPSDT. I've been waiting for the Obama administration to realize the power and potential of EPSDT for the medical rights - including the right to stay at home with their families - of children with disabilities. The health reform people talk about long term care, and the disability people talk about education and employment, but nobody is talking about EPSDT. So I am.