Updated:
Original:

Auditor: Minnesota followed the rules when awarding public health contracts

Author:

It was a decision that will see 370,000 people switch insurance providers and led to the loss of almost 250 jobs at one company.

But an investigation into how Minnesota's Department of Human Services (DHS) awarded contracts for public health insurance programs, such as Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare, has found it followed the rules.

The department says it will save $450 million after Blue Cross, HealthPartners and Medica won the bulk of the new contracts, but it was challenged by UCare, the biggest loser in the competitive bidding process.

The company was the biggest public health plan provider in Minnesota with 370,000 customers across the state, but was awarded zero contracts following the bidding process and as a result cut 245 jobs in October.

Now the preliminary results of a probe into the bidding process carried out by the Office of the Legislative Auditor has found the state followed the correct procedures when awarding the contracts.

"We concluded that DHS followed existing legal standards for scoring competitive bids and accurately calculated the total bid scores and top rankings of the proposals that were submitted," it wrote.

The DHS said UCare's bid didn't prove to offer the same value to the state as other companies when the quality of care and services they were offering was measured up against the cost.

Changes needed for county-based health providers

But the Office of the Legislative Auditor did concede the state had made a mistake in taking contracts away from South Country Health Alliance, which at the end of process was left with just a single county in which it could provide public health contracts.

South Country is a "county-based" healthcare provider, run by a group of 12 Minnesota counties including Goodhue, Todd, Wabasha and Waseca.

Following mediation, the Pioneer Press reports the DHS restored South Country as a provider in all of its original counties.

The auditor's report said changes are needed to laws regarding county-based health providers. The newspaper says the law currently requires the DHS to seek bids for every county in the state but also needs to offer contracts to county-based programs.

"In particular, the Legislature should clarify in law requirements regarding the participation of county-based purchasing organizations in competitive bidding and counties’ authority to purchase or provide public health care," the legislative auditor wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Next Up

Walz-May 6 - address

Walz to announce 'new action' on hospital capacity, expand rapid testing

It comes as Minnesota's health system is facing it's biggest COVID challenge yet.

2021.10.14 - Simmons Item 2

Hidden room with explosive, guns found on indicted TikToker's property

The MN man has been indicted on numerous charges, including impersonating an officer.

718 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota - July 2019

Charges: Driver ran red light, crashed into woman on mobility scooter

The woman, who had the right of way, was thrown from the scooter and died.

covid-19

Weekly COVID case rate rises in 73 counties

The highest case rates remain in greater Minnesota.

midwest rail

Twin Cities plays key role in new Midwest rail plan

The 40-year plan would mean 24 trips daily between the Twin Cities and Chicago.

bemidji minnesota

Would you move to Bemidji for $2,500? More than 20 have so far.

The city is running a program that will pay people $2,500 to relocate there.

minnesota zoo gladys owl 2 CROP

Escaped owl Gladys dies after being found injured

The Eurasian eagle-owl flew off from Minnesota Zoo staffers on Oct. 1.

Best Buy - jjbers, Flickr

Best Buy brings back early Black Friday deals

A 4-day sale featuring "hundreds" of Black Friday offers starts next week.

Gary Paulsen - YouTube screengrab

'Hatchet' author, Minnesota native Gary Paulsen dies

His final novel will be published early next year.

UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group posts quarterly profits of $4.1 billion

The Minnetonka-based health insurance giant is Minnesota's most valuable company.

Related