An unnamed Hawaii insurer is temporarily stalling a recent Med-QUEST contract award decision that limits Medicaid insurance options, especially on neighbor islands.

The Hawaii Department of Human Services announced its contract awards last week limiting the number of plans that could work statewide to two companies: Hawaii Medical Service Association and United HealthCare Insurance Company.

It offered two contracts for Oahu-only service to AlohaCare and Ohana Health Plan, also known as WellCare Health Insurance of Arizona. AlohaCare, which submitted a bid for a contract in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, publicly expressed disappointment in the DHS decision.

Honolulu Medical Service Association headquarters. HMSA is one of two insurers that were set to get a statewide Medicaid contract Daniel Ramirez/Flickr

The move was an unprecedented effort to consolidate insurance plans and limit insurance options for Medicaid patients. Shortly after, DHS received a Notice of Protest on Jan. 29 from an unnamed party.

Department officials did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the protest against the 2020 QUEST Integration (QI) Contract Awards. But the department has acknowledged online that the awards will be suspended until a resolution is reached.

“Pursuant to Hawaii Administrative Rules §3-148-501, all QI Contract Award implementation activities are suspended until further notice,” the department said in a statement.

The awards represent $17 billion in multiple contracts over the next nine years.

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