A months-long saga over a decade-long, $250-$350 million contract may be drawing to a close at the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
The department last week opened bids for a complex computer system to process claims for the state Medicaid program, which insures about 420,000 West Virginians.
The bid has dragged on for more than a year, divided DHHR's senior staff, prompted a legislative audit of the department and will likely cost the department some of its autonomy because of miscues by its own purchasing office.
The system, known as a Medicaid Management Information System, or MMIS, currently processes nearly 18 million claims a year. The state now needs to buy a new one and have a company run it for the next decade.
Molina Medicaid Solutions is the current contract holder and the lowest bidder to build a new system for the state, according to cost proposals made public last week. The California-based company said its total costs of doing the decade-long project would not exceed $249 million, including some optional services the state wants.
Atlanta-based Xerox said it could do the work for $311 million, Texas-based HP Enterprise Services said it could do the work for $317 million and Maryland-based CNSI bid $345 million.
The lowest bidder has an advantage: the lowest bidder automatically gets 30 out of 100 points for having the lowest bid. Other companies get a percent of that 30 points based on how far away they are from the lowest bid.
The other 70 points are the technical scores of the bids, which have not yet been made public.
MMIS contracts are a considerable business proposition for states and for companies. Some have run significantly over budget.
West Virginia's MMIS bidding process has made headlines for much of the year.
The contract has already been rebid twice. The agency has not given a reason for the first failure. The second bid was scrapped in March after it became tainted by a conflict of interest.
That was after DHHR's purchasing practices drew the attention of Legislative Auditor Aaron Allred in late February.