4 disputes involving UnitedHealth, physician staffing firms

Here are four recent disputes involving UnitedHealth Group and physician staffing firms: 

1. TeamHealth (Knoxville, Tenn.). UnitedHealth moved to end high-reimbursement in-network contracts with TeamHealth in 2019. The changes took effect between Oct. 15, 2019, and July 1, and affected contracts across 18 states. Earlier that year, UnitedHealth reduced TeamHealth's reimbursements for certain out-of-network claims by about 50 percent, prompting TeamHealth to sue UnitedHealth in eight states. According to Moody's Investors Service, the dispute could indirectly affect hospitals and other providers.

2. Mednax (Sunrise, Fla.). UnitedHealth plans to end its contracts with Mednax physicians in four states, beginning as early as March, the physician staffing group said in February. The contracts will end at staggered dates throughout the year from March 1 to Dec. 15. UnitedHealth said throughout the last few months it submitted proposals to Mednax that would reduce the amount it reimburses its physicians to a rate that was more consistent with what it pays other providers in Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. UnitedHealth said Mednax did not respond with counterproposals; however, Mednax said the firm "has engaged in numerous discussions with United regarding this matter. At no time were these discussions presented to Mednax as negotiations. Rather, United reinforced its unacceptable payment terms on a 'take it or leave it' basis." 

3. U.S. Anesthesia Partners (Dallas). In March, Moody's Investors Service changed its outlook of U.S. Anesthesia Partners, a group of nearly 5,000 anesthesia providers, from stable to negative due to a contract termination from UnitedHealth. UnitedHealth canceled its in-network contracts with the provider group in Texas. The contract represents about 10 percent of U.S. Anesthesia Partners' annual revenues, and was expected to be terminated in April 2020. 

4. Envision Healthcare (Nashville, Tenn.). UnitedHealthcare and Envision, one of the country's largest providers of emergency room services, agreed to extend their contract, effective January 2019. The agreement came after UnitedHealthcare argued Envision wrongfully sued the payer and by doing so broke an arbitration clause in their agreement. The insurer also called Envision's emergency room billing practices "egregious." In March 2018, Envision sued UnitedHealthcare for allegedly lowering contracted payments to Envision physicians and not allowing new Envision medical practices to join its network.

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