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October 2, 2017

Hartford HealthCare, Anthem contract talks resume today

PHOTO | HBJ File The front entrance to Hartford Hospital, Hartford HealthCare's flagship campus.

[This story has been updated.]

Anthem and Hartford HealthCare (HHC) are resuming talks Monday afternoon after failing to reach a contract agreement by Oct. 1, the Hartford-based health provider said.

HHC spokesman Shawn Mawhiney said the renewed negotiations are scheduled for 2 p.m. as both sides face political and other pressures to get a deal done. The lack of a contract means Anthems customers, which number in the tens of thousands, will have to pay higher out-of-pocket costs if they go see a Hartford HealthCare provider.

Attorney General George Jepsen, who does not have jurisdiction over the contract negotiations, expressed concern Monday over the apparent impasse.

Jepsen “is monitoring the situation and strongly urges the parties to come to a swift and fair resolution of this matter," said Jaclyn M. Severance, Jepsen’s director of communications, in an emailed statement.

Comptroller Kevin Lembo, administrator of the state health plan, said Monday afternoon that he had written letters to both parties urging resolution of the outstanding contract. In a separate communication to approximately 50,000 people on the state plan who are both Anthem members and utilize HHC providers, Lembo warned those members about the possible contract lapse – and the risk of financial costs that HHC may impose for any treatment provided during that time, he said.

In the letters to both corporations last week, Lembo said that failure to have a contract in place by Oct. 1 forces him to "direct more than 50,000 people covered by the state of Connecticut who use Hartford HealthCare to seek alternative providers."

After coming down to the wire in their last contract negotiations, HHC rejected Anthem’s offer, Anthem Spokesperson Sarah Yeager said in a company statement.

“After months of negotiations — which included multiple offers by Anthem to increase HHC’s reimbursement — HHC will not accept Anthem’s offer,” Yeager wrote via email.

She said Anthem wants HHC to agree to cost-of-living increases that are “comparable to increases accepted by other hospitals in the state. HHC is requesting a rate increase that is two to three times the rate of inflation and that is not acceptable to us, and not acceptable to our members.”

HHC said it is “disappointed in Anthem’s unwillingness to find common ground, and failure to negotiate with us in good faith. … Hartford HealthCare already has agreements with all major insurers, who understand what being paid for quality healthcare requires. Anthem today is paying other providers more than it pays Hartford HealthCare.”

Mawhiney said that being out of network is causing “anxiety, confusion and disruption” for patients.

“Now that Hartford HealthCare is out of Anthem’s Network, we strongly advise our patients who will have to pay higher out of pocket costs to fill out Anthem's Care Continuation Form and send it to Anthem for consideration,” Mawhiney said.

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