- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is considering replacing Greater Southeast Community Hospital as the prime contractor in the D.C. Healthcare Alliance with a firm owned by a politically connected accountant whose companies have received millions in no-bid contacts from the District.
"We would not consider Unity Health Care or Howard University Hospital, because they are [health care] providers," said James Buford, the acting director of the D.C. Department of Health. Pressed on which organization the city would consider, he replied, "D.C. Chartered Healthplan Inc. would be one we would consider."
D.C. Chartered Healthplan is a private for-profit health maintenance organization for D.C. Medicaid patients that administers alliance claims.
In the spring, Mr. Williams and the financial control board created the D.C. Healthcare Alliance, a reform plan to partially privatize the city's indigent care. Doctors Community HealthCare Corp. of Scottsdale, Ariz., through its hospital, Greater Southeast, became the prime contractor of the alliance, which includes other hospitals and clinics, for use by about 28,000 members.
But two weeks ago, Doctors Community HealthCare filed for bankruptcy protection after its lender, National Century Financial Enterprises of Dublin, Ohio, had filed for bankruptcy two days earlier. Doctors Community Healthcare owns Greater Southeast and Hadley Memorialin the District, one hospital in Chicago and two in California.
Now, city sources say D.C. Chartered Healthplan officials have been lobbying the D.C. government to replace Greater Southeast as the prime contractor in the alliance. Chartered received about one-third of the $81 million alliance contract in fiscal 2002, according to documents from the D.C. Department of Health. The five-year $500 million contract is the largest in city history.
D.C. Chartered Health Plan, which in 1997 won a four-year contract for $103.3 million to administer Medicaid claims, was bought by Jeffrey E. Thompson on March 29, 2000. Two days later, the city granted a fixed-price extension of the contract for $44.9 million, according to the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement.
On March 31, 2001, the company received another fixed-price extension for $44.9 million, documents show. In May, the control board finalized the alliance contract, and on April 1 the city granted a new no-bid contract for $60.1 million.
About 98 percent of the firm's income in 1999 and 2000 came from city contracts, according to documents from the Department of Insurance and Security Regulation.
Mr. Thompson also is the founder and main partner in Thompson, Cobb, Bazilio and Associates, one of the largest minority-owned accounting firms in the nation. The accounting firm has received contracts from the Williams administration totaling $9,398,937 since 1997. Of those, only a $864,584 State Education Office contract received in Aug. 1, 2001, was competitively bid, according to city documents.
Mr. Thompson, who has been a heavy political contributor to Mr. Williams' campaign, sits on the boards of the University of the District of Columbia and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. He also served on a commission that recommended a selection for the city's chief financial officer and inspector general, and has been known to credit himself with recruiting Mr. Williams to serve as chief financial officer in 1995, according to city sources.
Many city officials and medical providers express support for removal of Greater Southeast as the prime contractor if it fails to perform or to streamline healthcare delivery for the city's poor. The hospital's fortunes seemed to be slowly reversing last week after it received $4 million in reimbursements and deferments from the federal government and $17 million from a bankruptcy court judge. Three potential lenders have expressed interest in giving the hospital the financing it needs.
D.C. Council members say they are wary of taking such a "drastic" step as changing the alliance contract without first investigating alternatives.
"We may be able to make substitutions to the contract legally," said Adrian Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat. "That doesn't mean there is the political support to do it. We need to keep our options open and look at any relationships between contractors and [the administration]."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide