OU Health Physicians, BCBS of Oklahoma disagree ahead of contract deadline 

OU Health Physicians, the physician group of Oklahoma City-based OU Health, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma haven't been able to finalize a new contract renewal ahead of an upcoming deadline.

The deadline for the organizations to reach a new contract is Feb. 28. If no agreement is reached by then, OU Health Physicians and BCBS of Oklahoma will enter a 120-day transition period, where BCBS of Oklahoma members can still receive in-network treatment through June 28. After June 28, OU Health Physicians will be considered out of network for BCBS of Oklahoma members. As a result, some OU Health physician patients could face higher out-of-pocket costs. 

On its website, OU Health Physicians said it is calling for a reimbursement increase from BCBS of Oklahoma. The physician group said current contract payments are unsustainable.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma is undervaluing OU Health Physicians by insisting on paying them far less than what other insurance companies pay OU Health Physicians, the state's largest, most highly specialized, research-driven physician group," the group said. "We cannot invest in our academic, research and clinical care missions if BCBSOK undervalues us and continues to hold onto their profits."

BCBS of Oklahoma said it's goal is to reach a fair agreement with OU Health Physicians, but called the reimbursement rate increases the group seeks "excessive."

"OU Physicians is expecting BCBSOK to agree to an excessive increase in reimbursement rates, with no guarantee of higher quality care or better health outcomes for our members. We want to pay OU Physicians fair prices based on the value of its services, but such an extraordinary increase is not sustainable and will drive up premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, creating a financial burden our members and customers should not have to bear," the insurer said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review.

BCBS of Oklahoma's hospital agreement with OU Medicine is not a part of the ongoing negotiations.

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