[HEALTH.MIL] TriWest Protests Process That Ended With It Losing $20B TRICARE Contract

  • From: HEALTH.MIL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: <HEALTH.MIL@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2012 15:11:48 -0500

TriWest Protests Process That Ended With It Losing $20B Contract

ByJennifer Hlad 
Stars and Stripes
Published: March 27, 2012

WASHINGTON - The contractor that handles civilian health care providers for 2.9
million Tricare beneficiaries in 21 states is protesting the Department of
Defense's decision to award the contract to another bidder, saying the process
was not fair.

David McIntyre Jr., president and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance, said the
protest "does not have to do with our disappointment" in losing the contract,
but rather what he says are two major problems with the bid process.

TriWest has been the Tricare West Region contractor - helping operate the health
system through administrative support and creating a network of civilian health
care providers - since 1996. The West Region includes Alaska, Arizona,
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, western
Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

TriWest was awarded the contract again in July 2009, but UnitedHealth Military &
Veterans Services filed a protest, which re-opened that bid process. In
September, TriWest was ordered to pay a $10 million fine to settle a
whistleblower lawsuit, in which four employees said the company had illegally
kept savings it generated working on the contract. Earlier this month,
UnitedHealth was awarded the contract worth an estimated $20 billion.

McIntyre said his company was told they had submitted the lowest bid, but the
decision was based on best value for the work. TriWest was prepared to "dust
ourselves off" and determine the best way to move forward, likely shuttering the

But company representatives went to a debriefing with the government about the
process and learned what McIntyre called "disturbing information about how the
process itself was conducted."

First, McIntyre said, the government did not account for several hundred million
dollars' worth of discounts that was included in TriWest's bid. Second, he said,
the government did not fully examine UnitedHealth's track record.

As part of the bid process, companies are required to submit their five largest
accounts, which McIntyre said serve as references. TriWest also included other
information about its record, including the whistleblower lawsuit, and "were
told that we had rated the highest category of past performance," McIntyre said.

However, McIntyre contends that the bid evaluators only checked UnitedHealth's
five largest accounts and did not probe any deeper into their history.

"I would hope we would not buy body armor in such a fashion," he said. "Had they
done an appropriate and reasonable buyer's check, then we believe the outcome
may have been very different."

McIntyre's 9-year-old son was able to find potential problems just by doing a
Google search, he said, including "massive fines" levied against the company in
the past. Additionally, he said, doctors have contacted TriWest, "expressing
significant concern about the behavior and track record of [UnitedHealth] in the

If the contract transfers from TriWest to UnitedHealth, beneficiaries whose
health-care providers are not part of the UnitedHealth network will have 10
months to find a new doctor. Tricare spokesman Kevin Dwyer said it is too early
to know how many beneficiaries will see a direct impact of the switch.

However, all transition activities will be put on hold while the protest is
examined. TriWest filed its protest Monday evening, and this type of dispute is
generally adjudicated within 100 days.

TriWest is owned by 18 nonprofits but is not itself a nonprofit.

"We don't make a lot of money because our objective is not to make a lot of
money," McIntyre said, but "we're not broke."

If the protest is not successful, McIntyre said TriWest would "responsibly
convert" remaining contracts and business to a company they trust.

"We will not leave anyone at the side of the road," he said.


Call: TriWest Customer Service
      1-888-TRIWEST (874-9378)
      Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
      All U.S. Time Zones

Customer Service Web Page at

MORE INFO:  TriWest Web Site at http://www.triwest.com/en/

SOURCE:  Stars & Stripes

== HEALTH.MIL Mailing List ==

1.  The following options may be used to join\leave this mailing list:

    a.  ONLINE OPTION:  Online subscription\unsubscription options are 
available at:


    b.  E-MAIL OPTION:  Subscription\unsubscription may be performed by sending 
an E-Mail message to the following address:

        (1)  To subscribe to this mailing list, send an E-Mail message to 
HEALTH.MIL-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'subscribe' as the subject.

        (2)  To unsubscribe, send an E-Mail message to 
HEALTH.MIL-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe' as the subject.

2.  If the above subscribe or unsubscribe procedures don't work or if you have 
questions, comments, etc., about this mailing list, please contact 

Other related posts:

  • » [HEALTH.MIL] TriWest Protests Process That Ended With It Losing $20B TRICARE Contract - HEALTH . MIL