Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered a do-over for the state of New Mexico’s multi-billion-dollar Medicaid contracts despite the Human Services Department being ready to announce the selected insurers.
Daniel Chacon with the Santa Fe New Mexico comprehensively covered the debacle. The decision has garnered criticisms from lawmakers on both sides, stating that the timing was suspect, and the insurers spent a lot of money to develop their proposals. The governor’s team claimed they shared concerns about providers’ abilities to deliver continuity of care services during the transition of providers, leading to the decision to cancel the procurement.
House Minority Leader Ryan Lane called for transparency in the decision, and there is speculation that the governor may have tainted the process, but allegedly no evidence exists. The state’s contracts with its existing providers expire at the end of the year.
Western Sky Community Care donated $10,400 to Lujan Grisham’s campaign during the primary election reporting period in April 2022, according to campaign finance reports filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. However, a refund was issued the same day without any explanation.
The Santa Fe New Mexican neglects to mention the campaign contributions from the parent company. Western Sky Community Care is a Managed Care Organization and a subsidiary of Centene Corporation. According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, Shannon Bagley, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Centene Corporation, made a personal $10,400 contribution on April 1, 2022.
Centene Corporation made two additional contributions of $10,400 each on April 4, 2022. Robert Sanders made a $2,500 contribution and his employer was listed as Centene Corporation in the report. Similarly, Colin Toney made a $2,500 contribution with his employer listed as Centene Corporation. Chris Koster, Secretary and General Counsel of Centene Corporation and former Missouri Attorney General, made a $2,500 contribution.
Lastly, Chris Hummer, then-Chief Executive Officer and Plan President of Western Sky Community Care, made a $2,500 contribution.
From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
At least three other insurers bidding on the Medicaid contracts — Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Molina and UnitedHealthcare — also contributed to the governor’s reelection campaign, documents show. Molina was at the top with $20,800 in donations.
Centene Corporation, Western Sky Community Care, and affiliates sent at least $41,200 in campaign contributions to Michelle Lujan Grisham’s reelection fund. Turns out that Centene came out on top.
Dr. David Scrase, the Secretary of the Human Services Department in New Mexico and Acting Secretary of the Department of Health, retired from state government after being a key figure in the state’s COVID-19 response.
Meanwhile, General Services Department Secretary John Garcia left state government citing personal reasons. Garcia had previously served in various leadership positions in state government, including tourism and economic development secretary, and spearheaded the expanded Buy New Mexico initiative.