UnitedHealthcare asks judge to intervene in contract dispute

October 03, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A health care company has asked an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge to force the county school board and superintendent to award it the five-year, $15 million contract the company believes was improperly rejected.

Attorneys for UnitedHealthcare filed its request last week after school board members voted at a Sept. 15 meeting to void all bids for administration of a "preferred provider" health care plan.

Members of four unions representing school system employees opposed the change. At the meeting last month, the board chose instead to negotiate with its current administrator, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, to continue offering its services for one year.

UnitedHealthcare's attorneys also sought a restraining order to prevent the school system from those negotiations. Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom prohibited the school system from approving such a contract before an Oct. 12 hearing to extend that order.

The school system planned to begin talks with CareFirst last week, said P. Tyson Bennett, attorney for the school board. But no contract could have been ready for the board to approve at its meeting on Oct. 6, Bennett said.

"The world just doesn't work that fast," he said.

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