The Mississippi Division of Medicaid (DOM) has issued its final agency decisions regarding the protests of the MississippiCAN contracts. In February of 2017, DOM announced a request for proposals (RFP) to re-procure MississippiCAN contracts for the coordinated care program. Seven companies submitted responses. On June 15, after a thorough procurement process, the agency awarded contracts to the three companies with the highest scores: Magnolia Health, Molina Health, and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan.
On June 29, two companies that were not awarded contracts – Amerigroup Mississippi and Mississippi True – filed official protests through the administrative process. They then filed amended protests on August 18. After carefully considering the arguments raised in the protests, DOM’s Office of Procurement concludes that the protests have no merit.
The Office of Procurement found that the RFP process was fair and was followed appropriately; Executive Director Dr. David Dzielak agreed with the conclusions and adopted the findings.
“The agency affirms its initial MississippiCAN contract award decisions”, said Dzielak. “The protests were without merit, and the allegations against me and the agency were disingenuous. The MississippiCAN procurement process was conducted with the highest professional standards, and we look forward to working with Magnolia, Molina, and United to provide our members with access to quality healthcare.”
In short, the companies’ protests focus on three principal arguments: the executive director had a conflict of interest and should have disqualified himself, the evaluators were biased in favor of the incumbent companies, and the evaluators scored the proposals incorrectly.
- First, referring to two email exchanges from 2015 and 2016, the protesters argued that the executive director had a disqualifying conflict of interest because Molina allegedly offered him a job. This allegation is false, the referenced emails were taken out of context, and this allegation has been refuted publicly by DOM. The executive director never received a job offer from Molina, and Molina officials have signed affidavits confirming that fact.
- Second, the protesters contended that the agency’s scoring system was biased. For example, Mississippi True argued that it was penalized in the scoring process because, as a newly formed company, it had no professional experience, especially in comparison to the incumbent companies. However, the agency’s final decisions explain that the evaluation committee did not look merely at Mississippi True’s actual experience, but also at the experience of Mississippi True’s subcontractor, Evolent Health, a Virginia-based health-care company.
- Third, the protestors also argued that their scores were unfairly low in numerous respects. The Office of Procurement found that the evaluators’ scoring was proper. The RFP guidelines, moreover, expressly disallow attacks on the agency’s subjective scoring as a justification for a protest. All offerors consented to those guidelines prior to submitting proposals.
The contracts are set to be considered by the Personal Service Contract Review Board (PSCRB) in September. More information about the MississippiCAN procurement process and PSCRB review is available online on the DOM website.