A managed care company is hoping to hold on to a major military health administrative services contract.

Humana Military Healthcare Services, an arm of Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., has filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office over the recent award of the South Region TRICARE program contract to a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn.

There are discrepancies between the award criteria and procedures prescribed in the request for proposals issued by the U.S. Department of Defense and those that appear to have been used by the department in making its contractor selection, Humana says.

The new contract could last about 6 years. It has a total potential estimated value of about $22 billion.

The old contract is due to expire March 31, 2010.

Under the old contract, Humana has been managing delivery of health benefits for 3 million active-duty military personnel, dependents and military retirees in the South region, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.