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CDC keeps contract with Managed Care Advisors-Sedgwick as it struggles to provide medical services to 9/11 responders

The New York Daily News - 11/22/2022

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no plans to terminate a contract with a company that is struggling to provide medical services care for 9/11 responders around the country, and the agency is declining to say what penalties the firm could face, according to a new letter from a CDC official.

The company, Managed Care Advisors-Sedgwick, won the contract in 2021 to serve some 25,000 responders and survivors in the World Trade Center Health Program’s national network, but has yet to meet the core contract requirements since beginning work in August.

In a letter to the group 9/11 Health Watch, which had raised concerns about the CDC’s contracting process and oversight, the director of the overall World Trade Center Health Program said it would be too disruptive to fire MCA-Sedgwick. And, wrote Dr. John Howard, the director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health who administers the health program, the firm has also been making progress,

“Considering the performance improvements that were tracked during the August through November time period, the amount of time required to prepare for another course of action, and the significant disruption to member services occasioned by rebidding the NPN [National Provider Network] contract, the Agency does not consider rebidding the contract to be in the best of interest of members at this time.” Howard wrote to 9/11 Health Watch Executive Director Benjamin Chevat.

Chevat had acknowledged in his own letter to the CDC and NIOSH that firing MCA-Sedgwick — which Howard described as “rebidding the contract” — could be disruptive. But his group wrote that the CDC should consider it because so many ill responders around the country have struggled to access doctors and get information from the company.

While Howard said NIOSH and the CDC have decided to continue MCA-Sedgwick’s contract next year, Chevat noted that Howard only said that commitment made sense “at this time” — a phrase that Howard highlighted by putting it in italics.

In his letter, Howard wrote that “contractual remedies are available, but remain non-public information, privy only to the government and the contractor.”

“While there have been some improvements, not the least of which is Sedgwick finally answering its phones, the CDC contract office should be making public what actions they are taking to hold Sedgwick accountable for not meeting their contract obligations,” Chevat said.

The CDC has repeatedly declined to discuss the contracting process. The letter to 9/11 Health Watch is the first direct admission that it will not publicly discuss penalty provisions in the contract.

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