Arkansas system splitting with UnitedHealthcare

Starting May 1, Jonesboro, Ark.-based St. Bernards Medical Center and all its related inpatient and outpatient facilities will be out of network with UnitedHealthcare. 

In a March 1 statement on the system's website, St. Bernards Healthcare President and CEO Chris Barber said, "From our perspective, UnitedHealthcare continues to require unnecessary red tape for our providers and patients alike, restricting how we provide care and when our patients receive it. …

"UnitedHealthcare’s inaction and lack of urgency made it clear to us that UnitedHealthcare did not wish to establish a mutually equitable relationship. Therefore, there will be no further discussion pertaining to the 2024 plan year." 

On Jan. 4, St. Bernards Behavioral Health Hospital and St. Bernards Counseling Center went out of network with UnitedHealthcare, according to the post. On March 1, more than 300 providers in the St. Bernards Healthcare system transitioned to out-of-network status. 

A UnitedHealthcare spokesperson told Becker's in a statement that St. Bernards is "refusing to work with us to reach an agreement that is affordable and in the best interests of families and employers in Arkansas.

"Throughout our negotiation. St. Bernards has refused to provide a single formal proposal and has rejected multiple requests to extend our current contract, which would have allowed both organizations additional time to negotiate while avoiding any disruption to care for our members. While we remain open and committed to good-faith discussions, our focus now is ensuring the people we serve have access to the care they need through either continuity of care or a smooth transition to another provider, as appropriate."

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