Iowa official agrees to review of Medicaid managed-care contract, but does not halt implementation process

December 07, 2015

The Iowa official charged with rendering a final decision on whether to keep WellCare of Iowa's contract intact said she will grant four parties' requests for review of an administrative law judge's proposed decision. At the same time, Janet Phipps denied requests, from two managed-care companies passed over for contracts, for a stay that would halt implementation of the managed-care contracts. The Iowa Department of Human Services and Meridian Health Plan of Iowa each filed requests for review. DHS believes the contract should stay, while Meridian suggests the whole bidding process begin again. WellCare of Iowa and Aetna Better Health filed requests for review last week. Phipps, who was appointed director of Iowa's Department of Administrative Services by Gov. Terry Branstad, also denied Aetna and Meridian's request for an expedited final ruling. The companies, which were passed over to manage the state's $5-billion Medicaid program, asked for a decision to be made by Wednesday. However, Phipps said that time period "does not allow for the necessary due diligence in performing a thorough review." The moves are in response to Administrative Law Judge Christie Scase's Nov. 25 proposed decision to toss out WellCare's contract. Scase said WellCare failed to disclose a corporate integrity agreement that would have included information on $137.5 million in fines to resolve false claim litigation.