Alabama Medicaid's contract with ACS sparks controversy

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The Alabama Medicaid Agency has awarded a $3.7 million two-year controversial contract to Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) to consolidate medical information about its patients in one computer file and create a system for health and human service agencies to share information on common clients, as reported in the Associated Press.

The choice of ACS has raised concerns because the chief executive officer (CEO) Mark King of the Dallas-based company stepped down in an ethics investigation last year. Also, performance questions were raised in other states and about its consulting contract with Toby Roth, who was Alabama Governor Bob Riley’s former chief of staff.

At a State House news conference, questions directed at Alabama Medicaid Director Carol Steckel mainly revolved around the problems that ACS has experienced in other states and the CEO resignation. The press asked ACS senior VP Will Saunders if the company had a conflict of interest because of Roth’s consultant work for ACS. Saunders responded that Roth was hired after the Medicaid contract had been negotiated to help ACS understand Alabama.

In Georgia and Colorado, ACS was alleged to have lost personal information concerning Medicaid recipients and others receiving state assistance. There were also complaints of missed deadlines in North Carolina. At the press conference, Saunders said the data collected on Alabama citizens will be secure.

Steckel said the contract will begin in 11 counties, allowing the agency to create electronic health records for Medicaid patients. On Sept. 6, the Alabama legislature’s Contract Review Committee will review the contract, which can hold up a contract for 45 days. Committee chairman Neal Morrison said he doesn’t see any immediate problems with the contract, but he expects committee members will ask questions.

The contract will be funded by a $7.6 million federal grant.