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Southern Utah Vets Aid

PHOENIX — TriWest Healthcare Alliance announced today that it will protest the Department of Defense award of the TRICARE contract to provide access to health care for America’s military families in the 21-state TRICARE West Region, to UnitedHealth Group.

TriWest has held the contract for 16 years. TriWest was initially awarded this most recent contract in July 2009 and underwent a lengthy protest process led by UnitedHealth Group, which led to a rebid of the T-3 contract in August 2011. 

“On March 16, the U.S. Department of Defense made an inexplicable decision to award the TRICARE West Region contract to a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, a company with a long history of performance problems and legal issues, and with no history of providing health care to the military,” said David J. McIntyre, Jr., President and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance. “Due to what we discovered in the government’s debriefing, TriWest will exercise its legal right to challenge this decision, with the goal of winning back the contract and continuing to provide military personnel, retirees and their families in 21 western states with the healthcare coverage they deserve and value.”

“As taxpayers, we welcome competition and believe that the government should purchase goods and services using a fair and lawful process. However, based on the debriefing, we believe that the government’s decision in awarding the TRICARE West Region contract is the result of a flawed and unfair process.  Among the key mistakes, we believe that:

  • The government failed to conduct a sufficient and reasonable evaluation of UnitedHealth Group’s proposal, the risks that it poses to military health care, and United’s extensive track record of problems with consumers, providers, beneficiaries and government enforcement agencies.
  • TriWest’s price was significantly lower than UnitedHealth Group’s price.
  • Due to significant disruption, it will cost the government and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars simply to change contractors.
  • The government disregarded hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare cost savings through discounts guaranteed by TriWest.
  • UnitedHealth Group has no experience providing military health care. TriWest has been providing excellence in military health care for 16 years.
  • The government failed to adequately analyze the areas where transition risk might negatively impact beneficiaries and providers, and how to sufficiently avoid the negative past history of transitions from one TRICARE contractor to the next.”

“We owe it to those who put their lives on the line to protect our country to make sure their health care is the best it can be and is provided seamlessly to service members and their families. In today’s environment, it is unnecessarily disruptive to military families and the quality of their health care to be forced to change established relationships with trusted health care providers. Some will lose their doctors or have to pay more to keep them,” McIntyre added.

TriWest is honored and privileged to serve 2.9 million beneficiaries –  including active duty personnel, retirees and their families – and has more than 175,000 healthcare providers in its 21-state network. It employs 1,700 employees, many of whom are veterans, reservists and their family members.

The current TRICARE contract continues through March 31, 2013.

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