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Med-QUEST paring of health insurance providers is nixed

New request for proposals is coming

The Maui News

The state Department of Human Services is rescinding a controversial request for proposals process that had pared Med-QUEST insurers for Maui County from five to two, the department announced Friday.

The cancellation of the proposals process released in August was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department said. A new request for proposals process will be made in the fall.

“The needs of our community have dramatically changed just within the past few months,” said Judy Mohr Peterson, administrator of the Department of Human Service’s Med-QUEST Division. “The impact of the coronavirus caused us to take a new look at how to address the emerging needs of our growing Medicaid population and modify the requirements of the RFP to reflect this new reality we are all facing.”

Med-QUEST announced in late January that Hawaii Medical Services Association and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan would serve the Neighbor Islands.

‘Ohana Health Plan, AlohaCare and Kaiser Permanente would have no longer been Med-QUEST providers, forcing at least 18,000 people to have to switch plans.

Those contracts were scheduled to go into effect July 1. The postponement was to prevent people from having to go through added stress and confusion due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department said.

Existing contracts with all health plans shall be extended until the new contract awards are made.

Since March 4, Med-QUEST has enrolled over 24,000 additional beneficiaries, which is an increase of more than 7.5 percent in less than three months. The number of new applicants is expected to climb even higher as many face unemployment.

The resulting Medicaid enrollment numbers are expected to remain high until Hawaii’s economy and employment level stabilize, the department said.

“We are grateful to the health plans who submitted proposals in 2019 and look forward to receiving new proposals that respond to this new environment,” Peterson said.

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