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 May 6, 2005
State appeals blocking of health-contract award
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Gov. Don Carcieri�s administration on Monday appealed to the state Supreme Court a ruling that blocks the awarding of a health-care contract for 52,000 state employees, retirees and their families.

Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel last week issued a permanent injunction blocking the state�s three-year agreement with United Healthcare of New England. United rival Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island had sought the injunction, claiming the state�s handling of the bids was unfair. Vogel agreed, saying it was riddled with errors and that the state must seek new bids.

The Carcieri administration seeks an immediate suspension of the injunction and quick consideration of its appeal.

�The trial court�s errors of law are so patent and the abuse of discretion so egregious that the injunction should be immediately suspended and vacated,� the state said in its appeal.

The appeal also claimed that the lower court ruling would �...  open the floodgates for the legion of bid protests that will inevitably follow.� The state also claims the injunction �has prevented the state and its citizens from enjoying the benefits of a contract proposal that ... was financially superior by several million dollars� to Blue Cross� proposal.

Blue Cross has the current contract, which expires on Dec. 31.

Brian Stern, an attorney for the state Department of Administration, said Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams was expected to meet with lawyers in the case late Monday afternoon.

Blue Cross spokesman Scott Fraser has said that none of the people covered under the state plan would lose coverage if the matter isn�t resolved before the company�s contract expires.


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