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Patrick Springer, Published January 29 2013

Noridian likely to add 200 jobs; new contract could bring 500

FARGO – Noridian Administrative Services has been awarded a new Medicare claims processing contract expected to create 200 or more new jobs at its headquarters here.

Altogether, Noridian expects to add more than 500 new jobs under the five- year contract, valued at $345.2 million, with many of the new jobs in its North Dakota centers.

“It’s certainly a big impact in Fargo,” Paul O’Donnell, Noridian’s vice president of Medicare operations, said Tuesday. “We look forward to growing there. That’s our base.”

Under the five-year contract, Noridian will administer claims for Medicare Part A, which includes hospitals, and Part B, which includes physicians, for a region that includes California, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa.

The area, which includes more than 3.5 million covered beneficiaries, represents almost 9 percent of the total volume of Medicare fee-for-service claims administration business nationwide.

“It’s the largest contract in our company’s history,” O’Donnell said. Noridian Administrative Services was established as a separate business in 1998.

It formerly processed Medicare claims dating back to 1966 as Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, an affiliate.

Combined with other contracts, Noridian will administer about 15 percent of Medicare’s national claims volume, placing it in the top tier of Medicare claims operations.

“I think it’s fair to say we’d be among the biggest,” O’Donnell said.

Noridian Administrative Services has 908 employees, including 657 in Fargo, 78 in Jamestown and 72 in Grand Forks.

Details still are pending, and Noridian doesn’t yet know when hiring will start, but O’Donnell expects 30 to 40 employees will be added in Jamestown and 20 or 30 in Grand Forks.

New employees also will be added in California and through telecommuters elsewhere.

“We don’t yet know the date we’ll take over the work,” O’Donnell said.

The new contract will be implemented over the next several months, with claims work transferred to Noridian from the current contractor, Palmetto GBA, based in South Carolina, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“I believe our past performance record in partnering with the government and continued innovation in those contracts were undoubtedly factors” in winning the contract, O’Donnell said.

Many of the new positions will start at $13 or $14 an hour, but professional positions, including provider auditors and nurses, will pay more, he said.

Once ready to begin hiring, more information will be available about job opportunities under the new contract.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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