MANATEE -- If its Florida clients give glowing reports, Health Management Associates Inc. of Lansing, Mich., may soon be awarded a high-profile Manatee County health contract.
The Michigan consulting firm made a strong impression during its oral presentation and a five-person evaluation committee will now check HMA's references. The decision came Thursday after three hours of oral presentations from Health Management Associates and PricewaterhouseCoopers/Health Council of West Central Florida.
The two consulting firms are in competition to win a one-time contract to develop a comprehensive health care program for Manatee's uninsured and underinsured residents.
Health Management Associates bid $125,000.
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PricewaterhouseCoopers bid was $145,000.
The evaluation team is made up of Dr. Jennifer Bencie of the Manatee County Department of Health, Jacki Dezelski of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Andy Guyre of the county Community Services Department, Kim Stroud of the county Human Resources Department and Jacob Erickson of the county Purchasing Department.
The team had already eliminated LM Christmann Consulting of Bradenton from consideration.
Health Management's Maurice Lemon and Gary Crayton said their firm has worked on consulting projects for Palm Beach County, Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and for Florida International University's new medical school.
These will be among the references checked, team members said.
The task is to answer one of Manatee County's most pressing public health care questions.
"How will Manatee County finance the delivery of the most amount of health care to the largest number of uninsured patients in our community?" asked Philip Brown, president of the United Way of Manatee County and the only member of the public who attended the oral presentations at the county Administration Building.
Brown said he liked what he heard from both teams but Health Management Associates appeared a bit more on point.
"I found Health Management Associates to be a little more detailed in terms of strategies," he said.
Health Management Associates seemed very passionate about what they do," Guyre said. "The two gentlemen they sent were very professional. I came away feeling their approach to the project seems to be to lead us the right way from start to finish."
The next public meeting to review the references will be at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 14, on the eighth floor of the Administration Building.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072