Aetna to challenge Kansas Medicaid contract awards, UCare stands down

Aetna plans to protest Kansas' Medicaid contract awards, while UCare will stand down after losing an effort to win a contract in the state. 

The Kansas Reflector reported May 22 that Aetna plans to challenge the decision. Kansas said it would award contracts to manage the state's Medicaid program from 2025 to 2027 to Centene, UnitedHealthcare and Healthy Blue. 

Aetna, which currently holds a contract in the state, was passed over in favor of Healthy Blue, a newly formed partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, BCBS Kansas City and Elevance Health. 

According to the Kansas Reflector, at a meeting of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, Becky Austin-Morris, behavioral health director for Aetna Better Health of Kansas, said the company will protest the decision. 

"We are hoping to stay as an MCO in Kansas ultimately, and continue our good work in trying to expand behavioral health, mental health services in Kansas," Ms. Austin-Morris said. 

An Aetna spokesperson told Becker's the company is currently reviewing its options, and plans to submit a protest. 

"We're disappointed with the decision given the strength of our proposal and the excellent support we provide to our members in the state," the spokesperson said. 

Minnesota-based UCare launched an effort to win a contract in the state, and was unsuccessful. A spokesperson for the company told Becker's UCare does not anticipate challenging the award. 

"We are disappointed by the KanCare results, but knew that competing against established plans in Kansas would be extremely challenging," the spokesperson said. "In our view, every RFP opportunity is a valuable learning experience and building block for eventual success." 

Plans have 30 days from the contract award to protest the decision, the Kansas Reflector reported. 

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