Region C MAC contract: Up for grabs?

Sunday, May 7, 2006

WASHINGTON - The Government Accountability Office (GAO) last week may have given Cigna Government Services another chance at becoming the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) for Region C.

In January, as part of its transition from DMERCs to MACs, CMS awarded that contract to Palmetto GBA. Soon after, Cigna, which also bid on the contract, protested the award, sending it to the GAO for a ruling.

On May 4, the GAO approved Cigna's protest.

But the news wasn't all good, at least not for Cigna. The company also protested CMS's award of the Region D MAC to Noridian Administrative Services. The GAO denied that request.

The approved protest in Region C, however, may force CMS to put that contract back out to bid, an industry source said.

"I presumed that both protests would be denied--that they were slam dunks," he said. "I'm kind of surprised."

Because the protests are "protected," a source at the GAO would only say this about the approved protest: "We've made a recommendation that the agency now has to deal with."

The GAO wasn't expected to make its rulings public for several weeks, the source said.

CMS announced in late March that it would have to delay its transition to MACs in Regions C and D due to Cigna's protests. While the transitions in Regions A and B will take place as planned on July 1, the transitions in Regions C and D aren't expected until Oct. 1.

As a result of the delay, CMS has extended its contracts with the current DMERCs in Regions C and D through Sept. 30.