Chesterton Tribune

 

 

FBI probing county wellness contract

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

and KEVIN NEVERS

The FBI has seized documents related to the Porter County Commissioners’ decision in December 2012 to contract with Porter Regional Hospital to be the county’s new wellness program provider, after terminating a previous contract with HealtheACCESS.

Mike Anton of the Anton Insurance Agency, which services Porter County’s employee health plan, told the Chesterton Tribune this morning that, two to three weeks ago, he was approached by the FBI and advised that “someone had come to them suggesting something questionable about that contract.”

“They referred to it as a wellness program but it’s really a contract for clinic services,” Anton said.

Anton subsequently spoke to investigators for approximately an hour and then, last week, provided the FBI with requested documents, he said.

“We don’t have anything to hide,” Anton said. “It’s not that big a deal. The whole process for RFPs for a clinic service to be provided to county employees as a benefit was completely transparent and above board and in the best interests of the county.”

That request for proposals (RFP) was issued following disappointing results from the wellness program which HealtheACCESS was providing, Anton said: roughly 10 percent of county employees were actually availing themselves of it, at a monthly up-front cost of $18,000 or roughly $200,000 paid in total for access. “After a couple of years of an experiment put in place by (former County Commissioner Bob) Harper, it was suspect as to value.”

That RFP ultimately resulted in five proposals, Anton said: from Franciscan Alliance, from HealtheACCESS, from IU Health, from Porter Regional Hospital, and then a joint proposal from Franciscan Health and HealtheACCESS.

But all of those five proposals but one--Porter Regional Hospitals--had “up-front” as opposed to visit costs, Anton said. And it was unclear, in those four proposals, whether county employees would actually be seen by physicians or by nurse-practitioners or physician-assistants.

The program proposed by Porter Regional Hospital, in contrast, provides for a flat fee per visit to the Care Express, where county employees “will see docs,” Anton said.

In short, under Porter Regional Hospital’s program, the county “is only paying for what it’s getting” and the Commissioners “don’t have to be concerned with utilization issues,” Anton said. The other proposals, “to varying degrees, had an up-front access fees.”

County Commissioners President John Evans, R-North, similarly told the Tribune today that the process was conducted openly. He declined further comment, however, as the FBI continues its investigation.

Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, for her part told the Tribune that she hadn’t heard of the FBI’s interest in the RFP and said that she didn’t know why the FBI would be investigating.

 

Posted 11/26/2013