|By Tad Sooter, Kitsap Sun, Bremerton, Wash.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Talks between the hospital, represented by parent company Franciscan Health Systsem, and the insurance company failed after months of wrangling over reimbursement rates. The contract between Regence and Harrison was set to expire
That means beginning Friday, Harrison and Harrison HealthPartners physicians will be "out-of-network" for most Regence insurance plans. People enrolled in those plans will have to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for care at Harrison or seek care from other providers. Harrison estimates 10,000 patients are affected. About 1,500 are
Regence still covers emergency care at Harrison. Regence spokeswoman
Affected Regence plans include
Regence customers reacted with frustration Thursday to news of the Harrison contract termination, taking to social media to blast both the hospital and the insurer.
In an earlier email to the
"There are so many retired educators and other state employees in this area that are getting the state's Uniform Medical insurance, that it seems ridiculous that Harrison would not want to continue to serve them," McKinley wrote.
"It makes me very angry that the company I have a contract with can't get its act together," she said.
The disagreement between Harrison and Regence centered around reimbursement rates for services.
Regence representatives claim the insurer already paid Harrison at a higher rate than comparable providers and said the hospital was asking for "double-digit" increases in the new contract. Cunningham said Harrison's proposals would have unreasonably raised costs for Regence members. The breakdown in negotiations was disappointing, she said.
"Unfortunately, the patient gets caught in the middle and has to choose whether to pay more or travel farther," Cunningham said.
"We feel like they're trying to come between patients and their doctors," Thompson said.
In a letter to patients, interim Harrison President
"We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause, and thank you for your understanding and giving us the opportunity to continue to provide your and your customers with exceptional health care," Kortum said.
Harrison affiliated with Franciscan last year, and Thompson said Franciscan will eventually negotiate insurance contracts for Harrison in conjunction with its other hospitals. In the meantime, Harrison is open to resuming talks with Regence, he said.
"We would be open if Regence wanted to come back to the table tomorrow," Thompson said. "It's not like we'll stop taking their calls."
Harrison-Regence quick facts
Contract ends: The contract between
Emergency services: Still in-network at Harrison.
Federal Employee Plan: It still includes Harrison in its network but not Harrison HealthPartners doctors.
Other facilities: Nearby hospitals that remain in-network with Regence include St. Anthony in
State help: The state insurance commissioner provides resources for consumers. Go to www.insurance.wa.gov, or call 800-562-6900.
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