Dawkins testifies at Philadelphia City Council hearing on Pa.'s Health Choices program

PHILADELPHIA, March 10 – State Rep. Jason Dawkins, D-Phila., testified today before Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on the Disabled and Persons with Special Needs about Pennsylvania’s Health Choices program. At the hearing, Dawkins spoke about the state Department of Human Services procurement process for managed-care organizations.

"Between the initial RFP and today, the process has been plagued by litigation, cancelled awards, scoring errors and lack of transparency," Dawkins said. "I have two primary concerns with these developments. First, that they run counter to some of the early lessons we’ve learned through the roll-out of the Medicaid expansion. And second, that this saga demonstrates the urgent need for reform to the way our state conducts procurement."

Dawkins expressed concern that the process could impact health outcomes for patients, and increase costs for taxpayers. He also called for reforms to the procurement process.

"The opaque nature of the department's requirements and scoring process has been cause for significant concern. It has resulted in the process being interrupted and contested by numerous parties at multiple stages. And even at this late date, the awards are being questioned," Dawkins said.

"I am also troubled by the role the Commonwealth’s policy towards small and diverse business enterprises played in this process. This was reportedly one of the metrics that differentiated the proposals, but questions have been raised about whether the relevant firms were verified minority business enterprises."

Dawkins pointed to H. B. 2166 from the 2015-16 legislative session, which he plans to reintroduce next week, which would track and establish goals for participation by minority businesses in state contracts.