The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services on Friday announced another delay in the start day for new Medicaid management contracts covering about $12 billion in annual benefits.

Because of protests by losing bidders for the contracts that were awarded in January, "the transition to the new agreements scheduled for June 2017 is no longer feasible," DHS said in a notice. The winning bidders need more time to negotiate contracts with health-care providers, DHS said.

The new start date for the contracts is January 2018 in three of the state's five Medicaid-managed care zones, the Southwest, Northwest, and Northeast. In the Philadelphia region, the new contracts are now scheduled to take effect in July 2018. The Lehigh/Capital region, which stretches from the Lehigh Valley to Fulton County, will not get the new contracts until January 2019.

Initially, the new Medicaid-management contracts, which oversee benefits for more than 2 million Pennsylvanians under the states Health Choices program, were to start rolling out last month. The contracts were first award in April 2016, but Aetna won a preliminary injunction last July, stalling the process.

Winning bidders in January for the Philadelphia region were Gateway Health, Health Partners Plans, UPMC for You, Centene Corp., and Vista-Keystone First, a unit of AmeriHealth Caritas.

Companies filing bid protests were Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, and AmeriHealth Caritas, which was bumped out of the Lehigh/Capital region.