More than 2,000 jobs at a BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina subsidiary might be saved after the federal government agreed to reconsider its decision to award two contracts to another company.
"It's good news," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Hammond. "It means we're still in the game."
The job losses loomed because BlueCross subsidiary PGBA was told in July that it will lose its Tricare business when contracts expire in March. Tricare is a government-backed military health insurance program.
As a subcontractor, PGBA administers and processes Tricare claims for Humana Military Healthcare Services and Health Net Federal Services.
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Each contract lasts five years; one was worth $21.8 billion, and the other was worth $16.7 billion, Hammond said.
In July, Humana Military Healthcare Services and Health Net Federal Services were told their contracts would not be renewed.
This fall, they protested the contract awards because they said there were differences between award criteria and procedures described in the request for proposals used by the Department of Defense's Tricare Management Activity in choosing a contractor.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently upheld the protests and recommended that the proposals be re-evaluated.
"We sustain Humana's protest on the basis that TMA's evaluation unreasonably failed to fully recognize and reasonably account for the likely cost savings associated with Humana's record of obtaining network provider discounts from its established network in the South Region," according to the decision.
That could mean reevaluating the existing bids or starting over and asking for new proposals, Hammond said.
Efforts to reach a representative of the Government Accountability Office were unsuccessful.
Administering government health care programs is a key business strategy for BlueCross, and the company has been involved with the military's plan for nearly three decades.
PGBA employs between 300 and 400 people in Columbia and 50 in Camden. The rest of the jobs that could be affected by the loss of the contracts are in Florence and Surfside Beach. BlueCross BlueShield employs more than 11,000 people in South Carolina.