Bowser fires an officer who took a job with a health insurance company after Medicaid was obtained

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A week after the DC Council awarded multibillion-dollar contracts to three insurers to insure DC’s Medicaid patients, in what seemed to finally end a year-long struggle to fix the city’s Medicaid system after court and council battles, demanded Mayor Muriel E. Bowser a new ethics investigation related to the recently completed procurement.

Bowser announced this week that she has fired the interim director of her administration’s Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs (OPLA) after announcing he had accepted a new position at the parent company of one of the three insurers, which was just starting a lucrative received a Medicaid contract. Bowser (D) referred him to the city’s Ethics Committee and Inspector General.

Bryan Hum was promoted in February to the role of the agency tasked with policy analysis and development of Bowser’s legislative agenda. Bowser indicated Tuesday that Hum worked on the contracts, but said he was not involved in any negotiations or decisions.

In an Oct. 23 letter to the city’s Ethics and Government Responsibility and DC Inspector General Daniel W. Lucas, Bowser said Hum gave the city his two-week notice two days earlier that he was moving to Elevance Health, the parent company of the amerigroup. Earlier this week, the DC Council voted to award the city’s Medicaid contracts to Amerigroup, MedStar and AmeriHealth after a controversial year-long procurement process.

Tony Felts, a spokesman for Amerigroup, said Hum applied for the position in response to a public job opening in August — after DC’s Office of Contracting and Procurement had already made its decision on awarding the Medicaid contracts, though the Contracts not previously received by the Council for approval.

The city’s ethics rules prevent officials from obtaining future employment that overlaps with their government responsibilities; Two years ago, for example, a senior Bowser employee was fined $2,500 for accepting a job at Howard University after negotiating a tax break for the school in his city position.

Bowser said Hum did not retire from work related to the Medicaid contracts prior to announcing his new position.

“Although not a procurement officer involved in evaluating or negotiating contracts, Mr. Hum may be privy to non-public information as part of his duties in transmitting and servicing contracts to and through the Council,” Bowser wrote, during he escalates the matter to the agencies.

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Hum began working in the Bowser administration in 2018 and held various roles at OPLA before being appointed interim director. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

CareFirst, an insurance company that lost its bid to win one of the Medicaid contracts after lobbying the DC Council and advertising on social media to convince council members that Amerigroup was ineligible, mailed Wednesday a statement to the Washington Post saying that the contracts should not be advanced in light of the request for an investigation into Hum’s conduct.

“We appreciate Mayor Bowser’s request for an inspector general investigation and urge the district to halt contracting until officials and the public fully understand the extent of Mr. Hum’s involvement in the procurement and approval of these contracts.” , CareFirst spokeswoman Jen Presswood wrote.

Bowser’s spokesman declined to comment on the request to halt procurement.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Bowser said she “won’t tolerate people who break the code of ethics, even after they’ve quit.”

“People can take other jobs, but that’s why we did it [the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability] – You can call BEGA and get advice on how to proceed,” Bowser said. “But it should be clear to everyone that you can’t work on something and accept a job offer at the same time – especially on a contract that you’ve worked on.”

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