Your recent report on the Medicaid managed-care program in California ("Providers face delays in Medi-Cal enrollment," Oct. 14, p. 32) is a notable attempt to explain a complex situation. Unfortunately, you have created a false and unfair characterization of Benova through omissions, incomplete analysis and erroneous conclusions.
Benova and its predecessor, HealthChoice, have served the state of California with great dedication, skill and flexibility for more than 12 years. Like other organizations cited in your article, Benova has accomplished difficult objectives in the face of many dramatic changes in state plans and policies.
In the normal course of business, the California Department of Health Services issued a request for proposals last winter to secure Medicaid enrollment services, which were to begin at the conclusion of our contract this year. Officials stated publicly and explicitly that this was standard contracting procedure and that past performance had no bearing on the procurement.
Benova submitted a competitive bid but was not awarded the new contract. Consequently, we began preparing to phase out our California operations while planning for a smooth transition to a new contractor. Our contract was extended, at the state's request, to allow additional time to implement the new contract.
Despite these challenges, Benova has remained committed to meeting the state's objectives until the new contractor becomes operational. We have increased staffing fivefold. We also have added management expertise, upgraded information and telecommunications systems, and revamped procedures.
Throughout the transition, Benova will continue to meet its contractual obligations while honoring its philosophical commitment to "advancing health through informed decisions."
COLLEEN A. CAIN
President, chief executive officer
Benova, Portland, Ore.