United protests choice of Blue Cross

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - United Healthcare wants Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration to reverse the multimillion-dollar hiring of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana to manage state employee health insurance plans.

The Advocate reports that in a 15-page protest released this week, United Healthcare accused the Office of Group Benefits, which helped review the proposals, of producing a flawed analysis, using objectionable scoring and "bending over backwards" for Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

"During these tough financial times when every dollar should count, it is inconceivable that the OGB would fail to scrutinize proposals closely to maximize the bargain it can strike for state taxpayers," United Healthcare wrote.

Meanwhile, a legislator is seeking state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's input on whether outsourcing plan, which shifts duties handled by state workers to a private company, requires legislative committee approval.

According to state law, contracts for basic health care services "shall be subject to review and final approval by the appropriate standing committees of the legislature."

In a statement, Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said no further legislative approval is needed.

The protest first will go to Charles Calvi Jr., chief executive officer of the Office of Group Benefits. If he rejects it, United Healthcare will have the option of appealing to Rainwater.

The final remedy would be to pursue a court challenge.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield, United Healthcare and Humana submitted proposals to serve as administrator of state health plans covering more than 200,000 people.

The contract will result in 177 positions being eliminated from the Office of Group Benefits.

The Jindal administration contends the change will save $20 million a year.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield stands to receive $37.8 million a year as administrator.

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