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Court rules against Molina in Medicaid lawsuit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Santa Fe District Court judge has ruled against Molina Healthcare of New Mexico in a legal battle over the state’s Medicaid procurement process.

The decision was handed down Wednesday, according to the New Mexico Human Services Department.

Earlier this year, Molina filed a series of requests in court aimed at halting the procurement process. The state did not choose Molina, an incumbent, for a five-year Centennial Care 2.0 Medicaid contract that begins in 2019. Molina alleged the procurement process was unfair.

The company has said it will continue to serve customers in New Mexico through its Medicare and health insurance exchange plans. In a statement, Molina said it was “disappointed” by the court’s decision and plans to appeal.

“We remain concerned about our members’ access to and continuity of care, particularly with regard to our most vulnerable high-risk members,” wrote the company.

Mary Elizabeth Robertson, a spokeswoman for the Human Services Department, said in an email the agency was “pleased” the judge affirmed the state’s procurement process, which she described as “fair and transparent.”

“We are ready to move forward with Centennial Care 2.0 and our (managed care) providers . . . in delivering quality health care services to the more than 800,000 New Mexicans in need of care.”

In December 2017, the state awarded Medicaid contracts to incumbents Presbyterian Health Plan and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, as well as 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.

Presbyterian Health Plan President Brandon Fryar said in a statement that his organization “supports the court’s firm decision.”

In a statement late Wednesday, Blue Cross and Blue Shield said, “BCBSNM supports the court’s decision, and we are committed to serving our members and communities statewide.”

The other bidders were not immediately available for comment late Wednesday.

In October, Molina filed a notice with the state announcing it would lay off 381 employees in December, which it attributed to the Human Services Department’s decision to not award it a contract.