Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hawaii pays DC law firm another $1.25 million to redo Medicaid contracts

Apparently DC law firm Covington & Burling was paid another $1.25 million by the state of Hawaii to redo the Medicaid request for proposal that the company had already received millions for writing.

By my count, this now brings C&B's total from Hawaii to about $4.75 million.

The application for exemption from competitive bidding notes:

1.  the company is continuing to advise the state on law suits and complaints filed with the Hawaii Insurance Commissioner over performance of the two for-profit companies that were awarded the state's $2.5 billion in Medicaid contracts for providing care to Hawaii's aged, blind and disabled population;

2.  the company is providing "legal services relating to drafting and issuing" of the new RFP Hawaii is preparing to re-issue.

In December 2009 I asked a Hawaii Medicaid official about rumors I had heard about UnitedHealth and Wellcare, the two companies awarded the existing contracts, asking the state for an additional $60 million.  Her response was to say that the state is reworking the contracts with Evercare (UnitedHealth) and Ohana (Wellcare).

I am guessing that another contract extension might be laying around that I haven't found yet, since this latest one extended the contract until December 2009.  As I've been reporting, federal authorities from CMS have been in conversation with Hawaii officials since August, and these are continuing to this day.  David Heywood from UnitedHealth told me in December as well that his company was in talks with the state about how to re-define EPSDT's requirement for case management, and again, I would think legal counsel would likely be involved in that type of discussion.

Why is the RFP being revised and re-issued?  Is this "reprocurement" open to everyone or just UnitedHealth and Ohana?  Is it being done at the request of the two companies?  Is it for more money, fewer services, protection from complaints, all or none of the above?

Unfortunately, I have a nagging feeling that this is likely not good news for the state's ABD population.

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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.