Nebraska health system to drop all Medicare Advantage plans

North Platte, Neb.-based Great Plains Health plans to stop contracting with Medicare Advantage plans in 2025. 

The Great Plains Health Innovation Network, which includes the system's clinics and independent practices, will drop Centene's Wellcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare plans in 2025. In a May 16 news release, the system encouraged patients to opt for traditional Medicare in 2025 to continue receiving care from Great Plains Health providers. 

"To put the patient first, we can no longer be under contract with a plan that causes significant delays in care, longer hospital stays and outright denials of care," Narayana Koduri, MD, Great Plains Health's chief medical officer, said. 

In the past year, several other health systems have opted to drop some or all Medicare Advantage plans, often citing delayed or denied care. 

A November 2023 report from the Nebraska Hospital Association found 9 in 10 hospitals in the state reported Medicare Advantage plans negatively affected their ability to provide care. Around 1 in 3 hospitals in the state refuse to contract with certain MA plans, and not every hospital in the state accepts Medicare Advantage, according to the report. 

"While some enrollees may see savings, many living in rural communities across the state are losing access to medically necessary care with plans that erode the state's rural healthcare infrastructure and ultimately leave more cost on the backs of our seniors in these communities," the association wrote. 

In 2024, 26% of Medicare beneficiaries in the North Platte area were enrolled in an MA plan, according to a report from Chartis.

Great Plains Health operates a 116-bed acute regional care center and has 90 affiliated physicians. The system serves a 67,000-square-mile area in central and western Nebraska, and parts of Kansas and South Dakota. 

In the news release, Dr. Koduri said Medicare Advantage has limited access to care in the region Great Plains Health serves. 

"Medicare Advantage patients often have longer hospital stays as they await pre-authorization for post-acute services, which, in turn, limits bed availability for patients who truly need access to acute hospital care," he said. 

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