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Friday, March 23, 2012

Delay called for in award of Medicaid conversion contract

CONCORD – A diverse coalition of 12 organizations called on Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council to delay for one month the award of a contract to convert Medicaid from a fee-for-service to a managed care model.

It likely would be the largest contract in state history.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas is expected to reveal as early as Friday the identity of three firms recommended to carry out this massive overhaul of Medicaid, which supplies health insurance to the poor, disabled and some senior citizens.

The contracts will be submitted to the Executive Council for their approval Wednesday.

The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute organized the Thursday petition, urging the council to give the public more time to review the massive contracts.

The signers of the request range from the New Hampshire Hospital Association and AARP state chapter to the Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire, Institute for Health Law, New Futures Inc. and the NH Community Behavioral Health Association.

Medicaid provides services for as many as 130,000 clients, though with the improving economy the enrollment has averaged just under 110,000.

Kelly Clark is state director of AARP New Hampshire.

“These are multiyear, multibillion-dollar contracts and should not be rushed through without giving the public a chance to review them,” Clark said. “Many of our children, our frail elders and people with complex medical needs rely on Medicaid and need to know the new system will support the care they need to maintain their health and safety.”

Erica Argersinger, policy director for the Children’s Alliance, said nearly a quarter of the state’s children receive health care through Medicaid, New Hampshire Healthy Kids and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“This transition stands to affect a lot of children across the state,’’ Argersinger said in a statement.

Bath Republican Executive Councilor Raymond Burton reportedly has assured supporters of the petition that he could support the delay.

The other four Republicans on the council had taken no position as of Thursday, given that they had yet to receive the recommended companies from Toumpas.

The Department of Health and Human Services has had a special team working through weekends and holiday periods to review the inches-thick proposals from national companies with expertise in this area, along with some state health insurance firms.

Legislative leaders are counting on managed care to generate savings equal to at least $16 million in state dollars by June 30, 2013.

What remains to be seen is what a month’s delay would mean to the timetable for this program. Legislative leaders are counting on Toumpas to have managed care up and running by July 1.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com; also check out Kevin Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.