State still looking for consultant

The Jindal administration rejected the only proposal it received to provide “staff augmentation” as the state makes key decisions involving operation of its more than $7 billion Medicaid health insurance program for the poor.

The decision marks another delay in what was supposed to be a “fast track” process to identify the technology Louisiana needs for Medicaid claims processing and eligibility determinations.

Medicaid Director Ruth Kennedy notified First Data, of Atlanta, that it’s proposal had been “disqualified for failure to meet the mandatory requirements” as stated in the request for proposal regarding key requirements and dedicated personnel.

First Data responded to a request for a proposal seeking assistance as the state determines what kind of technology system Louisiana needs for Medicaid claims processing and eligibility determinations.

The state hopes to integrate the two systems and achieve savings. First Data is a global claims processing company.

The outside professional help is sought as the administration prepares to seek a replacement for its fired Medicaid claims processor Client Network Services Inc., of Maryland

C NSI lost a nearly $200 million contract earlier this year because of alleged improprieties. CNSI, which disputes the claims, is suing the state for wrongful contract termination.

The Medicaid claims processing work continues to be done by Molina Medicaid Solutions, a contractor that was supposed to be out of the picture by year’s end as CNSI transitioned into the claims work.

Douglas Baker, the spokesman for the state Division of Administration, said the state is in discussions with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as it prepares a new request for proposal.

CMS regulates and oversees the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor.

“Based on further discussions with CMS, the state will reissue the RFP (“request for proposal”) with some adjustments as we hope to engage greater competition,” Baker said..

Baker said the new request for proposals is under development. The date of the contract award will depend on the approval process both within state government and with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“We have spoken to federal officials regarding the need to fast-track approvals for this work,” he said.

The state had hoped to have a contract in place by Nov. 4.

The recent development marks the second delay in the contract award.

The administration had been on a fast-track to get the extra help on the two big Medicaid technology systems.

Originally there was a Sept. 6 date for firm selection and work scheduled to begin Sept. 23.

But a day or two before proposals were to be submitted, the state altered the schedule to allow the state Department of Health and Hospitals to insert language providing for a whole, partial or no award.

Time was also provided for verbal interviews with potential vendors.

Then, only First Data responded.