BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration hasn't done an independent performance review of its $363 million privatization contract for mental health and addictive disorder treatment services, according to an audit released Monday.
Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office raised concerns that the state Department of Health and Hospitals would extend its contract with Magellan Health Services without getting an external analysis of the company's performance under the two-year contract that ends Feb. 28.
In response to the audit, DHH said it has selected a contractor to do the external quality review, but its findings won't be used to determine whether to continue the contract.
DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said the department already intends to extend the contract by another year, as allowed under the deal's terms. She said the department has layers of internal review over Magellan, to ensure the company is performing well.
Under a program called the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership, the Jindal administration shifted oversight and claims processing for government-funded mental health and addictive treatment programs to Magellan.
The contract began in March 2012.
Magellan matches children and adults who are eligible for state-covered care to providers that offer the needed services. Costs of the program are paid with federal and state Medicaid dollars.
Health department officials have said the privatization has expanded access to care, growing from 800 health care providers that serve patients to 1,700 providers.
"We are very satisfied with where we are with the Behavioral Health Partnership," Kliebert said. "More people are getting services. People are getting services that are less restrictive. More providers are participating."
The audit says an outside performance review would determine if the contractor has followed federal and state regulations or all contract requirements and would review quality of patient care and access to health care services.
Auditors said that without that review, DHH can't determine if Magellan complied with Medicaid regulations, noting that the state can be forced to repay federal dollars deemed to be improperly spent.
Purpera's office said Medicaid regulations require the independent performance review, but DHH said it is on track with federal requirements. The health department said the federal Medicaid agency requires the outside review within the second year after the program began.