Rhode Island redoing Medicaid contract process after Tufts misses deadline, BCBS submits empty bid

Rhode Island is starting over with its $7 billion Medicaid contract bidding process after a series of snafus excluded some of the state's largest payers, according to WPRI.  

On May 13, the Rhode Island Department of Administration said federal policy changes to Medicaid meant the contract language needed updating and the process redone.

The decision comes after the original bidding process for a five-year contract would have left out Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Tufts Health.

BCBS submitted their "bid" on a blank CD and with no paper copy, though neither the state nor BCBS confirmed that meant the company was disqualified.

"We cannot discuss our bid at this time as the state is still in the midst of its procurement process,” a BCBS spokesperson told WPRI.

In January, Tufts Health was disqualified from the bidding process after submitting its bid two minutes late due to traffic and construction.

State officials discovered the issue with BCBS on March 8, but decided to move forward with the original process anyway, according to WPRI.

On April 27, HHS cited the revised federal policies as a new reason to throw out the original bids, and the state made it official May 13.

If BCBS and Tufts had remained eliminated from the original process, it may have greatly benefited the remaining payers who submitted correct bids: Molina Healthcare of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, UnitedHealthcare of New England and Commonwealth Care Alliance.

The current Medicaid contract expires in July 2023. Neighborhood provides coverage to 174,000 members, UnitedHealthcare to 97,000 members and Tufts to 17,000 members — the three account for about 85 percent of Medicaid members in the state.

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