BlueCross, Carondelet reach last-minute deal to resolve contract dispute

BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona and Tucson, Ariz.-based Carondelet Health Network have signed a new four-year contract, ending a dispute that could have caused the insurer's customers to lose in-network access at Carondelet facilities, according to a the Arizona Daily Star.

BCBS of Arizona and Carondelet announced they had reached a new contract Dec. 30 — one day before the deadline to finalize a contract that begins Jan. 1. Under the new contract, the insurer's customers have in-network access at all Carondelet hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, urgent care centers and other outpatient facilities. The agreement also includes Carondelet's employed physicians, according to the report.

In early December, both organizations publicly voiced their frustrations over the contract stalemate, and it appeared a new agreement wouldn't be reached before the new year. BCBS of Arizona claimed the reimbursement rate increases Carondelet was requesting were too high and would force the insurer to charge its customers higher premiums. Carondelet executives claimed the insurer was reimbursing the system at a lower rate than other hospitals in the area.

Fearing they would lose access to their physicians, some BCBS of Arizona customers already switched to another insurer for 2016, according to the report. However, the new agreement brings relief to those who didn't change insurance carriers, as they will be able to continue seeing their Carondelet physicians at in-network rates.

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