California health system could split with UnitedHealth, Anthem, Cigna

Clovis, Calif.-based Community Health System is facing Dec. 31 contract deadlines with several major payers, including UnitedHealthcare, Cigna and Anthem Blue Cross, The Fresno Bee reported Dec. 19. 

UnitedHealthcare sent letters to members notifying them Community Health System could be dropped from the payer's network, the newspaper reported. 

Community Health System operates four hospitals, a cancer institute and other outpatient facilities in Fresno and Clovis, Calif., according to its website. 

The health system said it is working to negotiate contracts with UnitedHealthcare, Cigna, Anthem Blue Cross and Aetna Medicare HMO plans. 

In a statement on its website, Community Health System said costs to provide care are rising because of COVID-19, inflation and labor shortages. 

"As Community negotiates in good faith we must ask commercial health plans to acknowledge the unprecedented cost challenges of delivering care to the residents of the Central Valley and join us in reaching a fair and reasonable agreement," the provider said. 

A spokesperson for UnitedHealthcare told The Fresno Bee the hospital asked for an "egregious and unreasonable" rate increase. 

"This is not affordable or sustainable," the spokesperson said. "We've offered [Community Health System] market-competitive rate increases that will ensure its hospitals and facilities continue to be fairly compensated for the care they provide to our members." 

Read more here. 

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