Insurance department fires suspended health analyst

Leslie Ludtke, the New Hampshire Insurance Department’s key health-care policy analyst, has been fired by the agency following a dispute in which she criticized the department for improperly using a competitive bidding process to achieve a politically acceptable result concerning a key federal health reform contract.Ludtke is represented by Concord attorney Chuck Douglas, who said he would be filing suit in the near future over the firing. Douglas would not comment further on the matter, nor would he disclose the agency’s latest letter to Ludtke — a letter in which the agency explained its reasons for the firing.Previous correspondence from the department cited “behavioral issues,” when placing Ludtke on administrative leave until June 1. She was fired on May 31.Ludtke, who used to be an assistant attorney general, had been one of the Insurance Department’s go-to persons for legislators and executive councilors on complicated health-care issues.The issue that resulted in her firing involved a $1 million grant that the state got from federal government to look into whether it should set up an insurance exchange under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.The exchange would determine eligibility criteria for health-care subsidies and tax breaks under the new law. The Insurance Department was to receive about two-thirds of the grant to look into how to set up a state exchange, how it would operate and how it would affect the private market.The legislature accepted the money, but the state Executive Council was opposed to hiring Winchester, Mass.-based Wakely Consulting Group, even though it won a competitive bid process. The councilors complained that there weren’t enough New Hampshire residents taking part in the review by Wakely.In response, Ludtke was told by Sevigny and Deputy Commissioner Alex Feldvebel that the department was considering awarding a no-bid contract to a Utah firm, Douglas said in his letter.Ludtke, who had overseen the bidding process, adamantly opposed awarding the contract without bidding or making contractor residency part of the bidding. Ludtke said that the department then froze her out of the process and treated her in a “hostile, bullying and intimidating matter”Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny wrote Ludtke on May 3, saying that she was “unhelpful and defiant,” and that her behavior and work were “unacceptable.” But Ludtke said that she was refusing to “compromise my integrity”When contacted by NHBR, the deputy commissioner issued the following statement:”The allegations by Ms. Ludtke and her attorney that the Insurance Department acted improperly are false. The department never asked Ms. Ludtke to act illegally or improperly. The Attorney General’s Office has been fully engaged from the beginning, both in the department’s deliberations about what to do in light of the council’s exchange planning grant decision as well as in this unfortunate personnel matter, and supports the department’s actions in both areas.” — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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