Four managed-care companies may feel as if they're hamsters in a wheel-running but going nowhere-as they chase a $3.5 billion, five-year contract to cover military beneficiaries in California and Hawaii.
The contract for 840,000 lives, part of the Defense Department's CHAMPUS Reform Initiative to enroll beneficiaries in managed care, has seen controversy and delays during its tortuous seven-year history.
The latest hitch started in 1993, when Foundation Health Corp., the original manager, lost the contract to Aetna. Three losing bidders-Foundation, Qual-Med and WellPoint-protested, and the Pentagon was forced to reopen bidding last year.
A decision had been expected by the end of September 1994 (Sept. 12, 1994, p. 10). But in true Defense Department style, September became October, and so on.
The Pentagon was about to announce a decision Nov. 30, 1994, but instead told bidders they once again would have to submit new bids. That was because the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services wanted them to include a new benefits package, announced Dec. 15, 1994.
Now, a CHAMPUS spokeswoman says bids are due Jan. 27 and a decision will come in late February or early March.