Update on UnitedHealthcare Negotiations
As you know, over the past several months, our hospital has faced a number of challenging and defining issues. Recent insurance negotiations, while difficult, were absolutely necessary for the long-term financial stability of our hospital. As we look to the future, there are exciting changes on the horizon, yet with change also comes new challenges. Today, we are facing one of those challenges with UnitedHealthcare.
We are currently in contract negotiations withUnited and our contract is set to expire on October 31, 2012. We would much rather focus our efforts on what we do best – caring for our community – yet United has not yet committed the time and attention necessary to get a new contract finalized. The physicians with Memorial Health Partners and The Chattanooga Heart Institute are not affected by these negotiations, nor is Memorial Mission Surgery Center.
We tried to start negotiations with United seven months ago in order to give ourselves plenty of time to get a contract signed before the expiration date; however, United has not been responsive. What’s more, United gave us an offer that represented a 15% reduction in payment rates. At the same time, all we are asking for is a rate adjustment that is in line with the market, yet United has remained silent and not responded. It’s difficult to understand how United can justify slashing payments when our hospital has been struggling financially and cutting costs to stay in the black.
If we are unable to reach agreement with United by October 31, 2012, your patients with United Commercial insurance may be forced to pay more money out of pocket to continue their care with Memorial Health Care System, including Memorial Hospital, Memorial Hospital Hixson, and the MaryEllenLocher Breast Center. We are working hard to avoid this outcome, but unless United changes course, we will be out of network with United starting November 1, 2012.
We will continue our commitment to work with United to bring this issue to speedy resolution, and we hope that United will make the same commitment.
As an important member of Memorial Health Care System family, we will continue to keep you updated on our status with United. Thank you for your continued support and patience.
James M. Hobson, FACHE
President & CEO
Memorial Health Care System