Passport Health Plan monument sign

Passport Health Plan's headquarters in southern Jefferson County 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky legislature's contract review committee voted Monday not to approve Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration's decision to award the state's Medicaid managed care business to five national health insurance companies.

The move is a rebuke to the Bevin administration during its final hours in power. The governor's Cabinet For Health and Family Services announced the contracts shortly before Thanksgiving.

The legislators agreed in a 6-0 committee vote to "disapprove" the deal, which was set to start next July. Their action also gives new life to Passport Health Plan, the Louisville-based provider that was left out of the late November announcement. Anthem also was left out, in favor of United Healthcare and Molina Healthcare.

Republican co-chairs Sen. Stephen Meredith and Rep. Stan Lee now will send a letter to the state's Finance and Administration Cabinet secretary, who has 10 days to respond, according to the committee. Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear takes office on Tuesday and has named Holly McCoy-Johnson as the new Finance Secretary.

State Rep. Charles Booker, a Louisville Democrat who is weighing a bid for U.S. Senate, serves on the committee. He said in a news release that the governor's actions would have hurt working families and add "unknowable chaos" during their re-enrollment.

"I am deeply concerned about this impact on Kentuckians, but today's committee vote sends a strong message that the legislature stands ready to help restore order and oversight with these agreements," he said. "I look forward to a transparent process in the weeks ahead, one that will include all MCOs for consideration in a fair process."

Passport told WDRB via email that it appreciates "that our elected leaders are giving the MCO contracts the thoughtfulness and consideration they deserve, and we'll continue to follow the discussion closely as it unfolds.

"In the meantime, we will continue with the protest option available to us as part of the state's procurement rules," Passport said.

As of this month, Passport provides Medicaid services to about 293,000 Kentuckians, or nearly a quarter of the state's Medicaid recipients. Passport serves about 159,000 customers in Jefferson and adjacent counties.

The nonprofit, which is owned in part by the University of Louisville, generates essentially all of its $2 billion in annual revenue from the state Medicaid contract. Losing the contract would raise serious doubts about Passport's ability to survive. Its failure would mean that all of its customers would have to find a new MCO and, potentially, new health care providers.

The contract loss also would further undermine the prospects for Passport's planned headquarters at 18th Street and West Broadway. Fiscal challenges had prompted the nonprofit to halt construction in February.

Shares of consulting company Evolent Health, which wants to buy Passport, rose 1.8% Monday. Shares of Molina Health, one of Passport's would-be successors, fell 2.75%.

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