VETERANS AFFAIRS

VA contract clears one protest hurdle

Yet another piece of the Veterans Affairs Department’s new eight-year contract vehicle to stand up its future network of care service providers tied up by a protest just like the prior portions were before that.

Wellpoint Military Care Corp. is challenging the VA’s award of a potential $26 billion contract earlier in August to TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp. for work in one region to support the Community Care Network program.

Indianapolis-based Wellpoint filed its protest over CCN’s fourth region on Aug. 19 over flaws it sees in how the VA evaluated bids, with a Government Accountability Office decision on that anticipated by Nov. 27. CCN Region 4 covers services across 12 states in the Mountain and Pacific time zone states, as well as Hawaii.

CCN is the VA’s standardized mechanism to purchase care for veterans from community health providers and manage care coordination efforts. The VA is breaking up awards by region, including three made in December of last year to UnitedHealth’s Optum business and the other more recently to TriWest.

A separate protest by Intrepid Health Alliance over the Region 4 award was dismissed on May 1. Intrepid evidently took issue with the VA’s move to issue amendments after proposals were due but before an award was made. GAO dismissed the protest 15 days after Intrepid’s original filing when the VA evidently offered to reassess if those amendments were needed.

Wellpoint, Triwest and Intrepid make up the field of three bidders for Region 4, according to an analysis of Federal Procurement Data System information.

Optum’s contract for CCN Regions 1-3 covers 36 states in the Eastern and Central time zones has a $55.1 billion combined ceiling. Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also included.

Awards of those portions were protested by Wellpoint, as well as TriWest, but GAO denied both challenges in separate decisions released May 2.

TriWest specifically took issue with the VA’s evaluation of bids for Regions 2 and 3. Wellpoint centered its protest around the award for Region 3. Those two companies and Optum were the three bidders for Regions 1 through 3.

Still to be awarded later this year is the contract for Alaska and a final source selection for U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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