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Two Dental Plans Challenge State Over Contracts

Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

The state’s decision to award Medicaid managed-care contracts to three prepaid dental plans is being challenged by two companies that submitted unsuccessful bids. 

Argus Dental and Vision and UnitedHealthcare of Florida filed complaints with the state Agency for Health Care Administration last week, giving notice of their intent to challenge the decisions to award contracts to MCNA Dental, DentaQuest of Florida and Liberty Dental Plan of Florida.

Tampa-based Argus Dental and Vision was one of eight companies that submitted Medicaid dental bids. But it did not get invited to negotiate with Medicaid officials because --- according to the challenge --- the state determined its bid to be non-responsive. But the company claims otherwise.

“The exclusion of Argus from the negotiations process was based on clearly erroneous scoring, was contrary to competition, arbitrary and capricious, contrary to statutes and contrary to the goals of the ITN (invitation to negotiate),” wrote Tallahassee attorney Steve Ecenia, who is representing Argus Dental and Vision.

The company wants the state to either award it a contract or to reissue the invitation to negotiate. UnitedHealthcare of Florida also is challenging a state decision that its response to the ITN didn’t pass muster.

The challenge said UnitedHealthcare officials held three rounds of negotiations with the state and that the company was asked to make a best and final offer before discovering that its plan didn’t meet requirements.

UnitedHealthcare attorney Seann Frazier said in the challenge that the procurement officer in charge of the dental ITN wrote a memo indicating that UnitedHealthcare’s bid was non-responsive because one of the two contacts listed for the company wasn’t authorized to enter a binding contract with the state.

According to the filing, the memo was written the evening before the Agency for Health Care Administration announced which plans it would ink dental agreements with.

The dental invitation to negotiate allowed the state to award up to four contracts with prepaid dental health plans.

Those plans are required to have at least one dentist per 1,500 enrollees, at least one pediatric dentist per 3,000 enrollees and at least one endodontics specialist per 5,000 enrollees.

AHCA, which can negotiate with Argus and UnitedHealthcare before sending the complaints to administrative court, distributed a timeline that shows the state would like to start transitioning Medicaid patients to new dental plans beginning in December.

The Medicaid dental ITN was one of three Medicaid procurements that were bid and negotiated by Gov Rick Scott’s administration this year.

In addition to procuring dental services, AHCA also rebid its statewide Medicaid managed care program.

The Department of Health put out to bid the Children’s Medical Services program for children with complex medical needs. See  Argus protest. See  UnitedHealthcare protest.

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News Service of Florida
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