The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded 3 managed care support services contract awards.

The department awarded the contract for the North region to a unit of Aetna Inc., Hartford; for the South region, to a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn.; and for the West region, to TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corp., Phoenix.

TriWest is the incumbent contractor in the West region.

Health Net Federal Services L.L.C., a unit of Health Net Inc., Woodland Hills, Calif., is the incumbent in the North region, and Humana Military, a unit of Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., is the incumbent in the South region.

The contracts include an initial 10-month “base period” and 5 1-year “option periods.”

The new contract period is set to start in April 2010.

TRICARE manages health care in military, veterans and civilian facilities for military personnel, retirees, and dependents of military personnel and veterans.

Aetna notes that, “under government procurement regulations the unsuccessful bidders for the North region TRICARE health care contract have the right to appeal (or ‘protest’) the award of the contract to Aetna.”

Health Net Federal Services and Humana Military have issued statements indicating they are waiting for the Defense Department to debrief them.

“We will consider the information provided at the debriefing, and within 2 weeks following, we will determine whether we will accept or challenge the award decision,” Steven Tough, president of Health Net Federal Services, says in a statement.

Similarly, Humana Military “will evaluate its strategic options with respect to the government’s decision, including protesting the award, and will act expeditiously to best position Humana for continued success,” Dave Baker, president of Humana’s Humana Military unit, says in a statement accompanying his company’s announcement of the contract award outcome.

The North region, which includes “the District of Columbia and the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa (Rock Island Arsenal area only); Kentucky (except the Fort Campbell area); Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri (St. Louis area only); New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.”

In the North region, the value of the base period and a 1-year option period would be about $2.8 billion, and the potential total value of the contract would be $17 billion, officials say.

The South region includes “the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky (the Fort Campbell area only), Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas (excluding areas of Western Texas).”

The value of the South region contract for the base period plus 1 option period would be $3.7 billion, and the total potential contract value would be $22 billion.

The West region includes “Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa (except the Rock Island Arsenal area), Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri (except the St. Louis area), Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas (areas of Western Texas only), Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.”

The value of the West region contract for the base period plus 1 option period is about $2.9 billion, and the total potential value of the West region contract is $17 billion.