July 04--FLORENCE -The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GA) upheld the Pentagon's decision to award health insurer UnitedHealth a $20.5 billion contract to provide healthcare services to the 2.9 million military beneficiaries in the western United States earlier this week.
The decision translates into big news for one Florence company.
Palmetto Government Benefits Administrators, known as PGBA LLC., is a Florence-based subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and is the medical claims processing subcontractor for UnitedHealth's subsidiary UnitedHealth Military and Veterans Services. The combined entity won the one-year contract for the military work after nearly three years of appeals from incumbent health services provider, TriWest Healthcare Alliance through the GAO and the Tricare Management Activity, the agency that oversees the military healthcare program.
UHMVS won the contract on March 16 from TriWest, which then appealed the decision 10 days later, putting plans on hold for subcontractor PGBA. PGBA officials say they'll need to hire 800 full-time employees to handle the contract work.
PGBA and its 2,000 employees are no strangers to these contracts and the make-or-break appeals process, having gone through it with Human Military Healthcare Services and Health Net Federal Services for the North and South 2009 generation Tricare contracts.
In a March 16 press release PGBA president and chief operating officer Mike Skarupa said, "The West region is a significant win for PGBA."
The 21-state West region, and the 2.9 million beneficiaries, means PGBA will be providing medical claims processing to the entire Tricare system.
When it first won the contract last spring, Tricare officials did confirm that it would mean additional jobs for the company, which has locations in four South Carolina cities. But it did not offer specifics, pending the GAO review.
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