- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The D.C. Council on Tuesday approved a controversial $12.7 million contract to overhaul the city’s publicly owned hospital.

The contract was approved on an 8-3 vote after a lengthy debate about the contracting process, the price and scope of the work and the future of United Medical Center in Southeast.

Companies that didn’t get the award — which appears aimed at recovering accounts receivable from Medicaid and other payers, as opposed to improving facilities or services — had pointed out irregularities in the process. Several had argued that the winning bidder, Chicago-based Huron Healthcare was allowed to change subcontractors after failing to include a certified local firm in its original proposal, as is required by D.C. law.

The overhaul effort was recommended in a 2011 consultant’s report that suggested downsizing the full-service, 300-plus bed hospital into an ambulatory-care center — which could make the facility more attractive to a potential buyer.

Supporters said the “turn-around” contract was urgently needed and would cost the city more money if the council voted it down and had to rebid it later. They also insisted that no plans are in the works to downsize the hospital, the only hospital east of the Anacostia River.

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