A state legislative committee in Hawaii kept the state's proposed Medicaid demonstration project, "Health Quest," alive last week when it bypassed a chance to kill the project and instead ordered a study of the feasibility of funding it.
The project has become controversial with some state lawmakers criticizing its financing.
Health Quest would privatize Hawaii's Medicaid program. It would consolidate Medicaid recipients with those receiving health benefits under Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the General Assistance Program and the State Health Insurance Program into a giant health purchasing alliance with about 110,000 covered lives.
The bill passed last week gives lawmakers time to study the Health Quest budget and determine whether it will be able to pay the proposed rates submitted by healthcare organizations to provide medical services.
The state has allocated $284 million for Health Quest, or about the same amount it would spend to provide services separately under the three programs.
Despite the fact that the project hasn't been blessed by the state Legislature, Winifred Odo, the state's Medicaid administrator, said the state will open bids submitted by five healthcare companies seeking to provide healthcare services to the alliance on March 4.
Healthcare organizations participating in the bidding process include AlohaCare, a coalition of community health centers and the University of Hawaii Medical School; the Hawaii Medical Service Association; Island Physicians Association, a subsidiary of the Queen's Health System; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan; and Straub Clinic and Hospital.