AHCCCS officials insist that the revolving door between the agency and its health-care providers does not lead to conflict of interest as long as high-level state employees follow a law prohibiting them from working for businesses with direct economic ties to the state government for at least a year after they leave their state jobs.

Some critics of AHCCCS, however, have suggested that the state-mandated one-year wait is insufficient when it comes to companies with multiyear contracts. Many have suggested that a three-year sit-out might be more appropriate.

State Senator Carol Springer, Republican-Prescott, says she is not convinced that anything fishy is going on in regard to AHCCCS bidding, but the appearance of impropriety is reason enough to change the system.

"You'd certainly think they wouldn't want people inferring that they have a problem," she says.

Swetnam puts it another way.
"Who knows whether there is anything going on?" he says. "If there is, it ought to be stopped. But it might not be [stopped] if they have their own people examining these complaints. And unless you have the time and the money to go to court, and can afford to lose that business forever, there really isn't any way to push a challenge to it.

"I can't say for certain that anything happened. Either way, though," he says, "it doesn't look good.

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