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Court dismisses Molina’s injunction request

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state District Court in Santa Fe has dismissed a health care company’s lawsuit aimed at halting the Medicaid procurement process, according to the state Human Services Department.

In January, Molina Healthcare of New Mexico filed an injunction and restraining order against the department and its secretary, Brent Earnest, alleging the procurement process was unfair. The state did not choose Molina, an incumbent, for a five-year Centennial 2.0 contract that begins in 2019.

Molina “understands the court’s ruling to be a requirement that we exhaust administrative remedies before it will consider a temporary restraining order against the New Mexico Human Services Department,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement.

The state has argued that Molina’s lawsuit should not move forward because it is still reviewing protests submitted as part of the process, including one from Molina.

“As we’ve made clear in our court filings, we believe that this contract decision will have a negative impact on our members, was unfairly administered with a flawed procurement process and involved an apparent conflict of interest,” the Molina spokeswoman said. “We will continue proceeding with our formal bid protest as we believe that New Mexicans deserve a thorough investigation into this procurement process, the results of which will have a profound impact on hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable community members.”

The state has denied there were any irregularities in its awarding of the five-year contracts for the program known as Centennial 2.0. It announced last month that the recipients of the Medicaid contracts were incumbents Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico and Presbyterian Health Plan, as well as newcomer Western Sky Community Care, a subsidiary of the St. Louis, Mo.-based company Centene Corp. Neither Molina nor United Healthcare, another incumbent, had their contracts renewed.

Protests were filed by Molina and United, as well as WellCare of New Mexico and AmeriHealth Caritas New Mexico, according to the Human Services Department.

A spokeswoman with the department said the state was pleased with the decision and “excited to move forward with the procurement process.”