It was disheartening to learn recently of the decision by the State Department of Health Services to deny a contract to Managed Health Services to help manage the care of 240,000 people covered by BadgerCare in Wisconsin.
Of the five companies that applied, Managed Health Services (MHS), which has provided services for the BadgerCare program for several years, was the only company not selected as a provider while four other companies—including one California-based company—were.
Why is this so troubling? MHS has played an active and vital role in southeastern Wisconsin over the past several years, especially right here in Milwaukee, and has provided services that show their experience and dedication to serving those who need it the most in our area.
MHS has served as a major sponsor of the Child Health Week and the Back to School Health and Resources Fair that are put on each year by the Milwaukee Department of Public Health.
Their staff have volunteered at the fairs and provided over $25,000 in sponsorship money to help with the purchase of school supplies, backpacks and snacks for attendees.
Partnering with Milwaukee Health Servicess, MHS helped open a “quick care” clinic in traditionally underserved areas of our city.
This clinic has worked to provide the most basic health care services—from physicals to preventative screenings, as well as screening for STDs.
These are vital services and programs that have had a tremendous impact in our region.
We find it troubling that a company that has done such good in the community, a company that understands the BadgerCare Plus systems and the needs of the low-income community, would be denied a contract by the state.
This case underscores the need for additional oversight of the Department of Health Services.
If a company with a track record like Managed Health Services—which is already effectively operating in the Milwaukee area—is denied a contract to continue their work on behalf of the public, it is necessary for the Wisconsin State Legislature to pursue legislation that requires legislative oversight of the department.
In the meantime, we urge Secretary Timberlake, the Department of Health Services and Governor Doyle to reconsider this contract and include Managed Health Services.
But it is clear that long-term changes to DHS oversight are required to ensure this does not happen again.