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State draws protest over Medicare deal

Benistar Administrative Services has filed a protest over the state’s Employees Benefits Division’s award of a state contract to provide group Medicare Advantage with prescription drug coverage to eligible retirees in the state’s health insurance plans for public school and state employees to United Healthcare Insurance Co.

Benistar’s filing of the protest led the Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday to authorize its co-chairmen to sign off on the proposed contract with United Healthcare after the state’s procurement director makes a determination on the protest by June 30 and if the terms of the proposed contract don’t change.

On June 3, the state Board of Finance approved the proposed contract with United Healthcare.

Minnesota-based United Healthcare, Connecticut-based Benistar and Kentucky-based Humana Insurance Co. are the three companies that submitted bids for the contract.

The state’s procurement director, Mitch Rouse, told the Legislative Council’s Employee Benefits Subcommittee on Wednesday that the crux of Benistar’s protest is over its disqualification from consideration for the Medicare Advantage contract.

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