Aetna Better Health has gone to court, opposing efforts by three insurance competitors to keep secret proposals they made as they sought to take over state Medicaid business.

Aetna asked the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to affirm a ruling by state District Court Judge Todd Hernandez.

The Advocate reports ( ) Hernandez ruled the documents were public records and dissolved a temporary restraining order that had barred their release.

The companies objected and Hernandez instituted a 45-day stay of his order to give them time to appeal.

Louisiana Healthcare Connections Inc., Amerigroup Louisiana, and United Healthcare of Louisiana had objected to the release of their winning proposals.

The insurance companies are scheduled to take over health care for some 800,000 Medicaid recipients — most of the children. Medicaid is the government health insurance program for the poor.

Aetna, one of the unsuccessful proposers, filed its own response to the three insurers 1st Circuit appeal and asked the court to immediately open the records.

"Aetna has advocated for full transparency throughout this process, and the details of our RFP have been available to the public since day one. We believe that it is time for companies who were awarded the contract to do the same," Matt Wiggin, an Aetna spokesman, said Monday.

Wiggin noted that the contracts are worth more than $2 billion a year for three years.

"It is in everyone's best interest, including the over 800,000 Louisiana citizens who will gain access to health care services through the program, to have an open and transparent review of the awards," Wiggin said.

Steve Russo, general counsel for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, said Aetna "is kind of stepping into our shoes" because the health agency also favors public release of the documents.

Russo said the public records dispute will not impact the state and the insurance companies moving forward with implementation of the "coordinated care networks" scheduled to start being implemented in February in Louisiana.


Information from: The Advocate,