Lawmakers Raise Eyebrows At Contact Tracing Contract
Last year the state of Tennessee agreed to pay a Hendersonville, TN medical billing company $20 million to conduct the state’s contact tracing efforts. It was a move that happened with no legislative oversight and was a no-bid contract. That $20 million price tag has now more than tripled to a cost of $75 million causing members of the state legislature on both sides of the isle to raise eyebrows. Numerous legislators have been critical of the state’s no-bid contracting process…as they say it places few officials in charge of procurement, plus circumvents the state’s legislative branch and could lead to a loss of taxpayer dollars. Governor Bill Lee has defended the process saying that last year during the pandemic saying state officials had to make decisions quickly to secure supplies such as personal protective equipment and other services…such as the contract tracing contract with Xtend Healthcare. In September 2020, Lee said he approved of emergency contracting as long as a state of emergency was in place. However even after the state of emergency expired on Nov. 19, the contract with Xtend Healthcare has remained in place at a high cost. The state identifies Xtend Healthcare as a “sole source,” meaning it’s the only firm satisfying the state’s needs. But they are a medical billing company with no history of in epidemiology…which raises lawmakers’ eyebrows even further. That contract with Xtend Healthcare is set to expire on January 31st.