June 16, 2009

United Healthcare Sues City of Warwick

Marc Comtois

United Healthcare is suing the City of Warwick, as reported by Russell Moore at the Warwick Beacon:

United Healthcare of New England...claim[s the City of Warwick] violated its own ordinances in awarding a healthcare administration contract for its employees without seeking a joint bid with the school department.

The suit asks the State Superior Court to declare the council’s award of the city’s health insurance administration contract to Blue Cross Blue Shield R.I. invalid.

The city council passed an ordinance in September of last year that required the city to go out for a joint bid for a health insurance contract with the school department.

The basis for the ordinance, sponsored by former Councilman Robert Cushman was that the city would save on administration costs if its bid specifications included all of its employees due to economies of scale.

The ordinance was passed by a wide margin.

However, last fall, the School Committee renegotiated a contract extension with the teachers in which Blue Cross was designated as the health care provider. According to United Healthcare, when the Warwick City council requested bids for a health care provider for city-side contracts, they were already in violation of the just-passed ordinance.
“The city has an ordinance that expressly states that all contracts - city and schools - must be bid together to get the best price for the city. We have asked the courts for a declaratory judgment declaring that the city did not comply with this ordinance in the awarding of a contract for health care administrator (insurer),” said Deborah Spano, United’s spokeswoman.
City Councilman Steve Merolla stated that he warned the rest of the Council that they were making themselves vulnerable for a lawsuit by conducting business in this manner. City Council President Bruce Place was apparently unaware of the lawsuit, but Mayor Scott Avedisian said he wasn't surprised that the losing party in a bid procedure had followed this course of action.
“We expected it. There was a bid process. We went through it. United wasn’t awarded the bid,” said Avedisian.

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Avedisian didn't expect this. Once again another lie on top of the many others associated with his administration.

One of the facts that has not been bought to light is that Councilman Merolla asked the Purchasing director and Personal director at the council meeting if they were aware of the new law. They said they were not aware it existed.

Members of the counicl with the exception of Merolla and Solomon cliamed they also were not aware.
The fact that eight of the current members of the council (and I) voted for this ordinance last August proves that they knew it existed. Also, the fact that only Councilman Merolla and Solomon advocated for postponing the vote, while council President Place and the rest of the council taking marching orders from Avedisian did not, demonstrates no concern to follow the bid laws of Warwick and ram home a three year contract for BCBS. At the least, the vote should have been delayed until the status of the law was determined.

Also why go out for a three year bid when millions have been saved through one year deals over the past two years.

The next day the council President sent an email to Merolla and entire council claiming the ordinance was vetoed by the mayor. He based this on an email from the clerk’s office with the attached ordinance with the words hand written “Vetoed” across the top.

Who hand wrote thoses words in the clerks attachment? Sounds strange to me. Avedisian administration officials deceiving counicl members to keep unlawful bid from becomming public?

I informed Merolla that the ordinance was never signed by the mayor. An ordinance after being voted twice by the council will become law without the mayor's signature (he has 10 days to decide to veto). 20 days after being advertised by clerk office in a paper it would become law.

If it was vetoed by law it would have to come before the council for an override vote at the next monthly meeting. That never happened.

In fact is the clerks office advertised that the new law was passed in the Warwick Beacon.

Once these facts were bought to the attention of Merolla by me, Merolla infromed the clerks office of these facts.

The clerks office admitted that they made a mistake. The ordinance was not vetoed and retracted the orginal email with the hand written "veto" on the ordinance.

In my opinion, it is clear the administration has been grossly negligent.

The mayor and his staff never intended to follow this law and did everything in their power to ignore it. So called ignorance is no excuse.

For the past three years, BCBS has been out bid by United, yet the mayor and council keep BCBS since the unions objected to a change.

That is the real motivation for the illegal actions in Warwick City Hall and the three year bid.

Keep the unions happy and screw Warwick taxpayers.

Robert Cushman
Former Warwick City Couniclman

Posted by: Bob Cushman at June 17, 2009 12:58 PM


You're just upset that for, what is it now, the second or third year in a row?, you couldn't deliver the city's healthcare contract to your buddy Paul Grimes at United. Why don't YOU tell the truth for a change and be a man and tell everybody about your friendship with Paul Grimes. You don't care about the taxpayers at all. All you are concerned about is headlines and feeding your god complex. The only person "screwing" the taxpayers is you. Just go back to your sweet little gig with CVS (did Paul Grimes get you that job?)and fade away. The voters in Ward 1 didn't want you anymore as their councilman and the voters in Warwick don't want you as mayor. Oh, and tell your friend Merolla to have the guts to run for mayor or just go away. Oh, but wait... that would require Steve to actually take a have a solution to a problem!! We wouldn't want that now would we!!!! I'm so glad I moved out of Warwick. People like you ("Give Away" Bob Cushman), "King Solomon" and Steve "no clue" Merolla have ruined that city.

Posted by: Bruce at June 17, 2009 9:38 PM

After 6+ years in healthcare, I call United "fake insurance." You pay for it, but it really doesn't do anything.

I once turned down a job when I found out I'd have to switch to United. Blue Chip isn't fantastic, but it was better than United.

Posted by: EMT at June 17, 2009 10:29 PM

Bruce, you really don't know what you're talking about. Mr. Grimes left United Health and moved to the midwest about 2 years ago.

Avedisian & Co. balked on substantial savings offered by UHC so he could appease the unions who are intimately tied to Blue Cross by virtue of the almighty Montanaro. Yes, I know, Montanaro is no longer Chairman of Blue Cross, but as Democrat National Committeeman and President of the AFL-CIO, do you really believe he isn't still calling the shots.

The Avedisian/Traficante/Chafee Republican model is absolutely no different from the corrupt and entrenched Democrat system of lucrative give-aways to public employees, financed by racheting taxes up as much as they can get away with year-after- year, in exchange for union support on election day.

I can't say it enough: With Democrats like Bob Cushman, who needs Republicans!

Posted by: George at June 18, 2009 12:40 AM


I know many people in Warwick who would love for Cushman to run for mayor.

They have told me they would jump at helping his campaign.

The first thing he would do as mayor is get rid of chump employees like you who do nothing all day.

Bruce, what's your real name, afraid to say you chicken.

Cushman for mayor!

Posted by: cushman for mayor at June 18, 2009 1:06 PM
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