Missed deadline costs Tufts Health Plan millions

PROVIDENCE – Tufts Health Plan learned the hard way in January that missing a deadline by two minutes is no excuse – and costly, too. 

Tufts representatives missed the application deadline to keep its portion of the state’s contract for Medicaid managed care by 120 seconds on Jan. 28 after frantically trying to get out of the Whole Foods plaza on North Main Street in Providence to submit their bid, WPRI-TV CBS 12 reported Thursday. 

The representatives unexpectedly found themselves stuck in bread-and-milk traffic after scanning PDFs at Staples for their application that were due by 1 p.m. at the administrative buildings just opposite the Statehouse, according to WPRI-TV. A higher-than-usual number of shoppers had descended on the Whole Foods store in preparation of a forecasted blizzard.

Tufts ended up submitting the material two minutes after the deadline, effectively disqualifying the insurer from bidding to keep a portion of the contract, which is reportedly worth $7 billion over five years.

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Tufts appealed the state’s decision on Jan. 31 arguing a “confluence of several unanticipated circumstances” led to the missed deadline. However, the appeal was denied in a letter from R.I. Department of Administration Director Jim Thorsen on Feb. 10.

Tufts’ current Medicaid contract with the state is slated to expire in July 2023. If Tufts remains disqualified from bidding for a renewal, it could lose out on over $400 million in business over five years. Currently, Tufts provides Medicaid health insurance coverage to roughly 17,000 Rhode Islanders, or about 5% of all residents enrolled in the program.