The Maricopa County Integrated Health Systems Board of Directors is currently meeting in closed-door Executive Session to discuss the current legal challenge and protest filed by Magellan and United RHBA against MMIC (Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care), MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless, and Maricopa County Special Health Care District. The current agenda shows a 30-minute spot dedicated to discussion of this subject, all of which will be exempt from records requests and exempt from public inspection.
It is not surprising that the MIHS Board is keeping a low profile and is remaining tight-lipped about this controversial contract after being awarded a possibly illegal $2 billion to $3 billion dollar contract from the State of Arizona. This came on the heels of a controversial pay raise for MIHS CEO Betsey Bayless that raised her taxpayer salary to $500,000.
The board will apparently receive legal advice on the protest to the bid and discuss options moving forward. An administrative law judge is likely to uphold the Department’s awarding of the contract, leaving a lawsuit targeting the state as a possible option. Magellan has already filed a civil suit seeking financial damages in Maricopa County Superior Court against MIHS and MIHS’ CEO Betsey Bayless. Magellan alleges MIHS was awarded the contract improperly and used proprietary information from Magellan to win the bid.
The new contract was set to begin on October 1, 2013, but the protest and lawsuit are likely to delay implementation. Previously MIHS responded to the formal protest with the following statement:
“We are studying those protests and will respond in the appropriate venues,” the statement said. “We are confident in the strength of our bid, and we are proud to offer a unique, collaborative approach to meet Maricopa County Medicaid recipients’ behavioral-health needs and to integrate the behavioral- health and medical services for those with serious mental illness.”
If you recall, the lawsuit also alleges “serious conflicts of interest” by MIHS because Mercy Maricopa both manages the system and provide services, which is “prohibited by the contract and by state law.” Magellan also alleges that the bidding process contained “serious irregularities,” such as the state’s bidding process being amended twice to unfairly benefit MIHS over their private competitors. Additional claims include conflicts of interest, improper scoring, licensing problems, and disclosure of proprietary information to competitors. Magellan originally serviced the state contract since 2007.
The serious allegations require attention and deserve public scrutiny. MIHS should be holding discussions on the contract and the protest, but they should be doing this in the face of the public. Not behind closed doors immune from public records requests. MIHS is a government entity that collects nearly $60 million dollars in property taxes every year and is run by a publicly elected Board of Directors. When the state awards a contract that could be worth up to $3 billion dollars, possible bias in favor of a taxpayer funded MIHS over private competitors deserves more sunshine and certainly more accountability.
If you’d like to contact the MIHS Board of Directors and demand more transparency for taxpayers, they can be reached via email as follows:
- Mary Harden – District 1 - email@example.com
- Mark DeWane – District 2 - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sue Gerard – District 3 - email@example.com
- Elbert Bicknell – District 4 - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Terence McMahon – District 5 - email@example.com