FILE - Hospital, emergency room, medicaid

The Louisiana Department of Health has selected four companies to provide health plans for the state’s multibillion-dollar Medicaid program.

AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana, Community Care Health Plan of Louisiana, Humana Health Benefit Plan of Louisiana, and United Healthcare Community Plan were tapped to manage the state’s Medicaid health plans beginning in January, state officials announced Monday.

Contract terms still must be negotiated. State officials expect to execute the contracts later this month, though potential protests from losing bidders could affect the timeline.

Most Medicaid enrollees receive their benefits through a managed-care model, whereby the program pays organizations a monthly fee to manage the health needs of their members. Medicaid made $7.6 billion in payments on behalf of 1.7 million enrollees to the five current managed care organizations during the 2018 fiscal year, the department says.

The current Medicaid managed care deals expire Dec. 31. Two of the five current providers didn’t win new contracts: Aetna Better Health and Louisiana Healthcare Connections.

The awarding of new contracts will not affect the Medicaid eligibility of any member. However, members may need to choose a new health plan if their current health plan is not awarded a new contract.

The federal government pays most of the cost of Medicaid, a health insurance program for low-income households. Gov. John Bel Edwards expanded the state’s program to almost 500,000 additional people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Edwards has touted the expansion’s benefits to patients and providers, though critics worry about the cost and oversight of the program.

Staff Writer

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.