Gray administration backs Trusted Health Plans

Jun 18, 2013, 2:55pm EDT

Gray administration backs Trusted Health Plans

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray

Ben Fischer

Staff Reporter- Washington Business Journal

A senior official from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray‘s administration expressed confidence in new Medicaid contractor Trusted Health Plans on Tuesday, shortly after leaving a meeting designed to test the startup’s ability to start processing claims on July 1.

Trusted, known until recently as Thrive, has raised eyebrows in the District’s health care circles after it had to abruptly change its name because of complaints of trademark confusion from Kaiser Permanente. Also, its owners have cut ties with Sharon Baskerville, a well-known fixture in the D.C. health care community who had originally been tapped as its first CEO.

"They acquitted themselves well," said Wayne Turnage, director of the Department of Health Care Finance. "I didn’t sense any foreboding concern from CMS, and my staff seems to be pleased with what they’re hearing. They’ve done a very good job in a very short period of time to get themselves ready."

Trusted was one of three companies, along with MedStar Family Choice and AmeriHealth Caritas, to win the multimillion-dollar contracts. It beat back concerns from some D.C. Council officials who questioned whether a startup could do the complicated work of handling medical claims for Medicaid beneficiaries.

Turnage said the company’s executive team appears capable, even if it does not include Baskerville as originally planned.

"At the meeting today, there was a lot of local talent in the room, and frankly, I was impressed with who I met with, some of whom I knew and some of whom I didn’t," Turnage said. "I didn’t leave that meeting with any concerns. [My department] doesn’t get involved in any particular negotiations with vendors and their potential employees, but I did not leave that meeting feeling they did a bait and switch."

Ben Fischer covers health care and law.

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