The process of opening the Louisville area to Medicaid competition is underway.

Passport Health Plan has run Medicaid in the area for 15 years, but the state has been ordered by the federal government to allow at least one more private operator to do business in the region.

Passport officials say they will bid for the contract and requests were sent to other potential bidders this week.

“I believe proposals are due back to us sometime before the end of July and we will be negotiating those contracts to go live January,” says Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Haynes.

Medicaid patients in the area will not have the first choice of who administers Medicaid for them. Rather, Haynes says patients will be assigned to a private operator then given the option to change.

Three private operators run Medicaid in the rest of the state. So far, only one—United Healthcare—has shown an intent to bid on the Louisville area contract.

When asked if they would bid on the Louisville contract, several other private operators declined to comment.