Louisiana’s Medicaid program started the new year under a cloud of uncertainty, amid a continued dispute over multibillion-dollar contracts to provide health services to 1.5 million people.

Deals with five private companies that manage care for most Medicaid patients were slated to expire at the end of December.

The Edwards administration struck emergency contracts to keep the companies in place for up to another year.

The administration chose four companies to do the work starting in 2020.

But two losing bidders that currently hold Louisiana Medicaid managed care contracts are protesting that decision, a legal process that has stalled the new contract awards.