UnitedHealthcare facing split with Arkansas system

UnitedHealthcare and Jonesboro, Ark.-based St. Bernards Healthcare have been unable to reach a new contract as several deadlines approach, Arkansas Business reported Feb. 5. 

Already, St. Bernards Behavioral Health Hospital and St. Bernards Counseling Center, including its affiliated psychiatrists, psychologists, advanced practice registered nurses and social workers, moved out of network with UnitedHealthcare Jan. 4, according to a report. 

If an agreement isn't reached by March 1, more than 300 St. Bernards Healthcare providers will move out of network with the payer, according to the report. St. Bernards Medical Center and its related facilities will move out of network on May 1 if a new agreement isn't reached. St. Bernards CrossRidge Community Hospital, based in Wynne, Ark., will remain in network through Jan. 1, 2025, on a separate agreement.  

A St. Bernards spokesperson told the news outlet that the system's problem stems from "how UnitedHealthcare conducts business and writes its clinical policies, which make it difficult for us to provide care." The spokesperson alleged these business practices and clinical policies delay patient care and add administrative costs that St. Bernards does not incur when working with other payers. 

A UnitedHealthcare spokesperson told the news outlet that it remains committed to good-faith discussions with the health system and is hopeful they can "work together to reach an agreement that is affordable for families and employers in Arkansas."

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