BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Adventist Health and the insurance company Anthem Blue Cross are in the middle of contract negotiations for rates when it comes to providing healthcare to Adventist Health patients. But if an agreement is not reached, some may have to find a new healthcare provider.
Adventist Health says it's been a number of years since they’ve taken such an aggressive stance with an insurance provider. But they say it's because they want to reach an equitable agreement with Anthem Blue Cross as the company is their second largest commercial payer for patients.
“Anthem’s decision to fail to come to an equitable agreement with us is putting the patient’s in the middle of this contract negotiation,” said Daniel Wolcott, president of Adventist Health for Kern County Network.
In the last five months, Adventist Health and Anthem have exchanged 14 contract proposals but Wolcott says none of the proposals from Anthem have matched what they have asked of other local businesses and consumers in the community.
“We are simply advocating to be treated equitably, in relationship to the rate increases asked of very consumers who have seen their premiums increasing. We simply want to keep Kern County dollars in Kern County.”
Wolcott says due to COVID their hospital has had to increase funds for staff and that’s what makes this negotiation even more important.
“Our healthcare workers have had to put their lives on the frontlines of making sure people get through the pandemic. We’ve had to pay them more to do that. Which was fair to them. That’s the way the market works. And so we’re saying to Anthem that you need to step up and be a part of the solution.”
23ABC reached out to Anthem Blue Cross for a response to the contract negotiations.
Michael Bowman, a spokesperson for Anthem, says the company has contracts with a number of hospitals in Kern County including Bakersfield Heart Hospital, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital, and Good Samaritan Hospital among others.
They also sent 23ABC a statement reading in part: “We’ve offered reasonable increases that are in line with what other provider partners receive for the same services, which will help keep healthcare affordable for those we serve. We believe our care providers should be reimbursed fairly, and that has been reflected in our offers during these negotiations. Our hope is to reach an agreement with Adventist prior to the current contract expiring, but if our efforts continue to be rebuked, we will work closely with our members to ensure they have access to quality care from any one of the many care providers in our network.”
And if they fail to reach an agreement by July 18th new patients will not be able to be treated at Adventist.
But Wolcott adds that Adventist Health will continue doing whatever they can to serve their patients.
“First and foremost on July 18, all care for current patients at Adventist Health will continue. We will not be asking people to leave or adjusting our care. What we are committed to doing is always providing the best care for our patients.”
According to Anthem Blue Cross, they have a meeting Thursday with Adventist Health where they hope to reach a resolution.