The Jindal administration is delaying the launch of a private sector-based health-care delivery system for the poor until February, state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein said Thursday.

The state health agency had planned to start rolling out the new “coordinated care network” program in January in the New Orleans area with a statewide phase-in completed by mid-2012.

Greenstein said patients and those providing care need more time “to absorb all the information coming at them related to Coordinated Care Networks.”

Five private insurance companies have been chosen to manage health care for some two-thirds of the state’s $1.2 million Medicaid recipients.

The companies form networks of physicians, hospitals and other medical providers through which care will be delivered.

A lot of work remains to be done prior to the program’s launch, including the companies contracting with the individual providers who will make up their networks.

In addition, covered Medicaid recipients have to decide which network they want to enroll in.

Greenstein said he wants to have enough information available so recipients can make good decisions on what plan is best for them instead of being assigned to a plan.

“I’ve been around the state talking to mainly hospitals and some docs. They are on board, but they asked me for a little more time so they can get the provider agreements,” Greenstein said.

Louisiana Hospital Association President John Matessino said some hospitals became wary of insurers as they aggressively sought to sign hospitals up as part of networks.

“This is different than traditional Medicaid,” and more along the lines of dealing with insurance companies, Matessino said.

“These hospitals are going to have their lawyers, finance people and staff involved just like a common carrier as they make decisions.”

Some physicians have said they need a lot more information before signing any contracts and that key documents, such as the policies and procedures that will govern the contractual relationships, are not yet available.

Louisiana Association of Health Plans executive Gil Dupré said the decision makes sense in the light of protests of the CCN contract awards and legal action during which the state and the selected firms could not communicate.

“It’s been kind of ‘turn it on, turn it off’ three times now,” Dupré said.

In addition, Dupré said, many health-care providers signed letters of intent to be a part of care networks, but others have waited to see what firms were selected so they could meet with them to decide whether to participate.

That takes time, Dupré said.

Dupré noted that there was even a protest involving the award of a contract to the firm serving as the enrolment broker — helping Medicaid recipients decide which network to use.

As he announced the decision, Greenstein said there is a realization that “this kind of reform can be challenging for our stakeholder community, including both enrollees and providers.”

So, Greenstein said, DHH’s leadership team decided more time was needed to ensure a smooth transition “to a system that will enhance access to care and set a higher standard for improved health-care outcomes we can all be proud of as a state.”

The change means the CCN system will be launched in the New Orleans-Northshore area Feb. 1.

The change will move to the Capital area, Acadiana and South central Louisiana beginning April 1, and the rest of the state June 1.