A company with ties to health secretary Bruce Greenstein ranked third out of four firms in a technical review of its ability to handle a potential $300 million Medicaid contract, a state legislative panel learned Friday.

But CNSI’s lower price for taking over Medicaid claims processing and information systems landed the Maryland-based company the best score and a recommendation that it get the contract, a top health agency official said.

Technical aspects amounted to 80 percent of the scoring system for the project review team, while 20 percent related to cost. The three top firms scored within 100 points of each other in a 4,000-point rating system state officials use to decide which firm will receive government contracts.

The disclosure came as a state Senate panel questioned state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Greenstein for a second day about his involvement in the process that led to the choice of CNSI, his former employer. Senators asked him and other health agency officials about the contents of emails and memos the committee had subpoenaed last week.

Greenstein insisted he had nothing to do with the selection process and had created a “firewall” to avoid influencing the decision. He was CNSI vice president for health between 2005 and 2006.

However, a state senator said because of Greenstein’s influence, the document outlining capabilities expected of the firms was altered so CNSI could qualify. The subpoenaed documents indicate that the change came after CNSI raised a question, noted state Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans.

Greenstein called the change a “clarification” to get as much competition as possible so that state taxpayers would get the best value and best price. “I stepped back from process but I was prepared to answer questions that were policy related,” Greenstein said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s press secretary, Kyle Plotkin, issued a prepared statement saying the governor met with Greenstein and “has complete confidence in him.”

Officials of nursing home, hospital, pharmacy, ambulance and primary-care associations filed cards in support of Greenstein’s confirmation as health secretary.

Jindal appointed Greenstein as secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals last year. He accepted the job in July and officially took over Sept. 13, leaving a position with Microsoft to come to Louisiana.

The full Senate must confirm that appointment.

Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, Senate Finance Committee chairman state Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, and state Sen. Sherri Cheek, R-Keithville, vice chairman of the Senate’s health committee attended much of Friday’s hearing.

The Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee spent much of the hearing going over documents it subpoenaed from DHH in regard to the contract.

Its interest was piqued when Greenstein refused to initially divulge which of the four firms seeking the lucrative contract was being recommended.

Under pressure and threats that his confirmation could be held up, Greenstein disclosed CNSI topped the field that included HP Enterprise and Services, Molina Medicaid Solutions and ACS-A Xerox Company.

Molina has the current contract.

Under questioning, Greenstein said he met with CNSI’s president soon after he took office and as DHH was preparing to seek offers.

State Sen. Rob Marionneaux, D-Grosse Tete, said both Greenstein and his predecessor, Alan Levine, warned employees involved in the procurement process not to have any contact with potential vendors.

Marionneaux then asked about the meeting with CNSI’s president and whether there was discussion about release of the request for proposals.

“I can’t remember,” said Greenstein.

State Sen. Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport, said subpoenaed emails show Greenstein was involved in the contract award process prior to his becoming a state employee, including suggesting that a better route might be splitting up some of the work.