MONTANA: INVESTIGATION FINDS MANAGED CARE CONTRACT VALID
The Montana health department "didn't bend any rules or showThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
favoritism when it chose a managed care company to take over the
$400 million publicly funded mental health system," the state
Department of Administration ruled last week after a month-long
investigation. The BILLINGS GAZETTE reports that Dal Smilie,
chief legal counsel of the state Department of Administration,
dismissed complaints filed by three HMOs -- Vista, Options Inc.
and Merit Behavioral -- that Montana Community Partners, the
winning HMO, "was treated differently during the contract bidding
process last fall" (see AHL 3/18). Smilie said that he found "no
irregularities or violations of law."
MONKEY OFF BACK: State Department of Health officials said
that they were relieved by the decision. "That's an enormous
weight off our shoulders and certainly off the cloud over this
process," said state Health and Human Services Director Laurie
Ekanger. The state "still faces a lawsuit from Vista," which
"vehemently maintains that the process was tainted," according to
the GAZETTE. The California-based HMO contends that Montana
Community Partners "offered jobs to those who awarded the
contract and broke the rules governing the length of the proposal
submitted to the state." A hearing on the case is scheduled for
April 7. Ekanger said that implementation of the program, which
is set to begin April 1, will go forward despite the suit. "If
we thought we were at risk of an injunction, we would not be
moving forward. I'm very confident that this process was fair,"
she said. Jani McCall, executive director of Montana Community
Partners, said that the company is prepared to implement the plan