CCHC Raises Concerns About United’s Threat to Eliminate CCHC from Insurance Coverage Network

(Hyannis, April 11, 2012) – Cape Cod Healthcare is concerned and disappointed by a recent letter sent from United Healthcare to its members that reside on Cape Cod, threatening to eliminate CCHC and its physicians from the UHC network.  

The letter, sent late last month, states that United Healthcare – a large, national health insurance corporation with a relatively small number of members on Cape Cod – will eliminate CCHC from its network on April 30, 2012 if ongoing negotiations for a new contract are not resolved to United’s satisfaction. CCHC is doing everything in its power to reach an agreement with United on a new contract in order to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.

By way of background, CCHC and United Healthcare of Massachusetts, (UHC) have been engaged in contract negotiations for over one year. These negotiations are for a new contract under which UHC will pay CCHC for the quality health care services provided by CCHC and its physicians to UHC members.

These negotiations are taking place at a time when CCHC has turned around its financial performance and has maintained cost increases to less than 3.2% annually over each of the last three years. This is consistent with the Consumer Price Index – the most widely used measure of inflation. In fact, community-based hospitals, like Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital, are typically among the most cost-effective providers in the healthcare community.

In contrast, the cost of health insurance for small businesses, employers and families is increasing at double-digit rates annually. In Barnstable County, such double-digit premium increases are not the result of increased hospital and physician rates. Moreover, CCHC has not received a payment rate increase from UHC in over four years.

CCHC faces some unique challenges on Cape Cod that continue to sharpen its focus on managing expenses when compared to other hospitals in Massachusetts.  A majority of our patients are covered by lower-paying government-funded health insurance plans, including Medicare, Medicaid and the new state-subsidized health insurance plans. We’re reimbursed directly from the government for care provided to these patients and we have no control over payment rates set by the government.

The major commercial insurers doing business in Massachusetts understand this issue and, typically, are willing to become community stakeholders as reflected in our contracts with them. Our primary goal in negotiations with United Healthcare is to establish fair rates of payment that are competitive with the other major insurance companies doing business on Cape Cod.  Adequate payment ensures our ability to continue to provide critical services such as heart care, cancer care, emergency care and maternity care.

United’s negotiating tactics of delays, refusal to compromise and brinksmanship show little concern for the wellbeing of their members (our patients) and have put us all in this uncomfortable position.  CCHC is the safety net for all Cape Cod residents and will continue to honor our mission of taking care of anyone who presents at our doors.  We are committed to helping patients navigate their care, so if United is not giving answers or is being unresponsive, please call us at 1-877-CAPE COD and we will help. 

Cape Cod Healthcare – one of America’s Top Ten health care systems – is the leading provider of health care services for residents and visitors of Cape Cod. With more than 450 physicians, 4,500 employees and 1,100 volunteers, Cape Cod Healthcare has two-acute care hospitals, the largest home health services agency on the Cape (VNA), a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility, an assisted living facility and numerous health programs. For more information, visit Cape Cod Healthcare’s web site at Cape Cod Healthcare. We’re taking good care of you.

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