BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A company whose Medicaid contract with the state is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation said Friday it will challenge a decision by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration to cancel the agreement.
Maryland-based CNSI, which once employed Jindal health secretary Bruce Greenstein, was supposed to take over Medicaid claims processing next year. After the federal investigation became public, the governor's Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols announced the more than $185 million contract was being scrapped.
CNSI in a statement said the contract was canceled without notifying the company. CNSI spokesman Sonny Cranch said the company was consulting with attorneys about how it might challenge the decision.
"CNSI will pursue every legal avenue available to the company," Cranch said.
The Baton Rouge-based grand jury is looking into how the contract was awarded by the administration. Greenstein, secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals, worked for CNSI from 2005 to 2006, but denied any involvement in the selection.
However, the health secretary's handling of the contract was criticized by lawmakers when CNSI was announced as the winning bidder nearly two years ago.
Nichols said Thursday the decision to cancel was made in consultation with the attorney general's office. She said her office was cooperating fully with the federal investigation.
CNSI got the 10-year contract in 2011, beating three other companies for the work, but critics said the company underestimated the true cost of the contract and made incorrect assumptions to win the bid. CNSI submitted the lowest bid, but didn't get the best technical score among applicants.
The company said unsuccessful bidders protested the decision and the governor's Division of Administration upheld the award to CNSI.
"We have been working on the implementation of this new Medicaid system for Louisiana for well over a year and recently reached an important milestone in that process with a timely launch of a critical component of the system," CNSI President Adnan Ahmed said in the statement.
Under questioning from lawmakers in 2011, Greenstein acknowledged a change he pushed in the bid solicitation made CNSI eligible for the Medicaid contract, and he met with a top CNSI official within days of coming to the health secretary's job.
The grand jury's subpoena issued to the governor's Division of Administration requested all documents submitted by companies that bid for the work and documents that show the date and time each response was received by the state.
Greenstein's office directed all questions about the investigation and contract cancellation to the Division of Administration and refused further comment. Asked about Greenstein's future in the Jindal administration, the governor's chief of staff Paul Rainwater said in a statement, "We have confidence in Bruce."
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.