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Pa. delays long-term care overhaul

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services on Thursday delayed until January 2018 a massive overhaul of how Medicaid beneficiaries receive long-term-care services, including nursing home stays, home care, and other supports for the elderly and the physically disabled older than 21.

The start date in the Pittsburgh region had already been pushed back by six months, to July 1, 2017, but the agency said Thursday that appeals by losing bidders for the business, worth as much as $5.4 billion annually in aggregate, had forced the delay.

The winners of statewide managed Medicaid contracts were AmeriHealth Caritas, a subsidiary of Independence Health Group; a unit of Centene Corp.; and UPMC for You, which is owned by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, DHS announced in August.

In all, 14 companies put in bids for the contracts, which cover services for 420,000 low-income Pennsylvanians. Three of the losers, Gateway Health Plan, Molina Healthcare, and United Healthcare, filed bid protests. Molina and United also filed petitions to block DHS from negotiating final agreements with the winners.

Under the current plan, the program, called Community HealthChoices, will start in Southeastern Pennsylvania in July 2018, DHS said.