Watchdog dismisses TRICARE bid protest

Thinkstock
The government’s watchdog on Monday denied a protest over a multibillion-dollar contract from a company that provides health care to millions of service members and their families.


TriWest Healthcare Alliance lost its bid protest over the Defense Department’s March decision to award a $20.4 billion contract to UnitedHealth Group to manage TRICARE, the military’s vast health care system. TRICARE covers 2.9 million active-duty and retired service members and their families, and Phoenix-based TriWest has managed the program in the western part of the country for more than a decade. Defense in 2009 re-awarded the TRICARE contract to TriWest, but UnitedHealth Group protested that decision, which led the department to reissue its solicitation for bids.

The Government Accountability Office, which rendered the decision, said Defense’s evaluation of the contract award to UnitedHealth was reasonable and rejected TriWest’s protest on all counts. “Although GAO’s decision denied the challenges raised by TriWest, the decision expresses no view as to the merits of these firms’ respective proposals,” Ralph O. White, GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law, said in a statement.

TriWest will explore whether it can take action in response to GAO’s decision.

“Given our 16-yearlong commitment to providing access to care for military families across the West Region, we are extremely disappointed by the GAO’s findings regarding our protest,” stated TriWest President and Chief Executive Officer David J. McIntyre Jr. “We will be discussing this decision with our company’s owners and the counsel who represent us, and will, in turn, be making a decision on what, if any, action we will take in response to the GAO’s denial of our protest.”

TriWest’s current TRICARE contract runs through March 31, 2013. UnitedHealth Military and Veterans Services, which is part of UnitedHealth Group, is set to begin managing the program in April 2013.

TriWest expressed concerns with the contract award to UnitedHealth, arguing that UnitedHealth did not have experience in military health care management and the company would not offer the best value to enrollees. TriWest’s contract bid was lower UnitedHealth’s bid.

“UnitedHealth Military and Veterans Services is honored to be able to put our expertise and experience to work on behalf of TRICARE West beneficiaries, and we look forward to working with the Defense Department and the incumbent contractor to ensure a smooth transition for service members, retirees and their families,” Lori C. McDougal, CEO of UnitedHealth Military and Veterans Services, said in a statement. “We are committed to working with the Department of Defense to ensure beneficiaries have access to cost-effective, quality and innovative care.”

A March story in The Washington Post said TriWest paid the government $10 million in September 2011 to settle a whistleblower lawsuit claiming it pocketed savings that should have been passed along to the government. TriWest spokesman Scott Celley told the newspaper the problem was over “clerical errors.”

GAO has not yet released the official decision on the bid protest because it contains proprietary and source selection sensitive information. The watchdog asked the companies’ lawyers to identify that information so the agency can release a public version of its decision.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.