The proposals submitted by several private insurance firms picked to play vital roles in Louisiana’s new health-care delivery system for the poor should be disclosed because they are of “huge public concern,’’ an attorney for an unsuccessful bidder argued in court Tuesday.
“The public has a right to know’’ what information was included in the winning proposals, Aetna Better Health Inc. attorney Larry Demmons told state District Judge Todd Hernandez.
Demmons acknowledged that Aetna has protested the selections.
Attorneys for three of the winning proposers told Hernandez that the release of their proposals — which contain proprietary and confidential information — would violate their privacy rights.
The state Department of Health and Hospitals plans to release the full, unredacted proposals the companies submitted as they competed for some $2.2 billion in state Medicaid program business.
Louisiana Healthcare Connections Inc., AmeriGroup Louisiana Inc. and United Healthcare of Louisiana Inc. filed separate lawsuits against DHH last week to block the release of proprietary information in their winning proposals.
Aetna intervened in the case to align with DHH, Demmons said.
Attorneys for all four insurance companies and DHH will return to Hernandez’s courtroom Friday for a hearing on the issue of proprietary information.
DHH attorney Michael Coleman argued Tuesday that the agency wants to be as “transparent’’ as possible when it comes to the selection of the insurance companies.
“DHH understands its obligations under the Public Records Act,’’ he told the judge. “We’re prepared to do whatever the court orders us to do.’’
Louisiana Healthcare Connections attorney Keith Armstrong said DHH’s request for proposal states that proposers “should be prepared to defend the reasons why the material should be held confidential.’’
Armstrong said the document suggested that such a defense would be “legal action.’’
“It is our obligation … to appear here to prevent disclosure,’’ he argued.
“It’s the only way that we have’’ to protect the insurers’ privacy rights, AmeriGroup Louisiana attorney Wendell Clark added.
United Healthcare attorney Brent Hicks said the law protects proprietary and trade secret information.
“These aren’t public records,’’ he argued.
Medicaid is the government’s health insurance program for the poor. Louisiana’s new program would serve about 875,000 of the state’s 1.2 million Medicaid recipients — most of them children.
Louisiana Healthcare Connections, AmeriGroup Louisiana and United Healthcare of Louisiana are among the five firms awarded contracts last month.
The firms would run coordinated care networks, which emphasize preventive and primary care. The idea is to cut costs and improve Medicaid recipients’ health through better coordination of care and use of medical best practices.
The governor’s Division of Administration must sign off on the contracts.
DHH has received public records requests from the unsuccessful proposers.
DHH hopes to begin phasing in coordinated care networks in January. The program will be launched in the New Orleans area and implemented statewide by May under DHH’s time schedule.