CUP asks federal judge for halt to state contracts

Ruling in Medicaid services provider’s case likely next week

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 

Update

Previously: Columbia United Providers filed a lawsuit against the state Health Care Authority after the state said it would not continue its contract with CUP to provide Medicaid managed care services. Community Health Plan of Washington later joined the lawsuit.

What’s new: U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin H. Settle in Tacoma heard CUP and state arguments during an injunction hearing Monday afternoon. CUP requested the injunction hearing to stop the state from implementing contracts with other insurance plans.

What’s next: Settle is expected to make a ruling on CUP’s request for an injunction by the end of next week.

Columbia United Providers officials and their attorney asked a federal judge Monday to halt the state’s effort to contract with other health insurance plans to provide Medicaid services.

CUP filed a lawsuit against the state Health Care Authority earlier this year after the state announced that it would not continue its contract with CUP to provide Medicaid managed care services to Clark County residents. Community Health Plan of Washington, a Washington-based nonprofit insurance plan and competing Medicaid health plan offered in Clark County, joined CUP’s lawsuit after the state reversed its decision to award the group contracts in Clark and three other counties.

Attorneys for the insurance plans and the state made their cases before U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin H. Settle on Monday afternoon in Tacoma. CUP and Community Health Plan are seeking an injunction to stop the state from executing its contracts with the selected insurance plans until the lawsuit is settled.

Settle said he would issue a ruling by the end of next week, said Dr. Lisa Morrison, medical director for CUP.

Settle read the briefs filed by both parties prior to Monday’s 3:30 p.m. hearing, but he hadn’t read all of the declarations of people interviewed by the attorneys, Morrison said.

“It seemed to go very well,” she said after the hearing.

The CUP lawsuit argues the state signed contracts with health plans that do not have adequate provider networks. The lawsuit also claimed the state entered “into agreements with national health plans that offered dramatic but illusory savings through low bid rates.”

The state Health Care Authority in January selected five health insurance plans to provide Medicaid services to more than 700,000 Washington residents, including more than 65,000 in Clark County. The selected insurance plans will manage care for the state’s Healthy Options and Basic Health members, most of whom are low-income women and children.

CUP, a community-based health insurance plan owned by PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and other Clark County health care providers, has provided those services in Clark County since 1994.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health;http://facebook.com/reporterharshman;marissa.harshman@columbian.com.