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MetLife Wins TRICARE Dental Battle

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MetLife Inc. says a unit will be responsible for managing a major military dental benefits contract.

Judge Eric Bruggink of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued a ruling Friday that supports a U.S. Government Accountability (GAO) decision awarding a $3.1 billion TRICARE Dental Program contract to a unit of MetLife, New York (NYSE:MET), rather than to United Concordia Companies Inc., Harrisburg, Pa., a unit of Highmark Inc., Pittsburgh.

Bruggink dismissed a bid protest filed by United Concordia

“For the reasons that will be set forth in an opinion to issue shortly, plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the administrative record is denied; defendant’s and intervenor’s cross-motions are granted,” Bruggink says in an order announcing the decision.

TRICARE is a program that provides health coverage for military personnel, military dependents and military retirees who get medical care outside the military and veterans health care systems.

The winner of the TRICARE Dental Program is supposed to provide dental coverage for 2 million TRICARE dental program enrollees for a 12-month base period and 5 1-year option periods.

United Concordia has been the TRICARE dental coverage provider for 15 years.

The TRICARE Management Activity, the U.S. Defense Department agency that runs TRICARE, awarded the contract to MetLife because officials decided that the MetLife provider network was larger and better for meeting TRICARE needs than the United Concordia network, GAO officials said in an explanation of their ruling.

MetLife says plan participants will get an increase in the annual maximum.

- Allison Bell

Other TRICARE coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: