University of Texas Medical Branch, Aetna to split

The University of Texas Medical Branch Health is ending its contract with Aetna next spring, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The Galveston-based system's interim president, Ben Raimer, MD, made the announcement Nov. 5 during a conference call. The decision comes after the organizations were unable to reach an agreement after four years of negotiating, Dr. Raimer said. He blamed Aetna for not reimbursing UTMB at competitive rates.

"We've had the same contract [with Aetna] for the last 10 years. You know that your medications, the things that you're being treated with, have increased in cost. And yet, we have not been able to have the cooperation of Aetna to cover those things that have gone up. So the best thing that we can do at this point is just say, 'We enjoyed working with you the last 10 years. We need to move on and work with people who will work with us,'" Dr. Raimer said, according to the Houston Chronicle.

In a statement to the publication, Aetna said the contract termination was unexpected. 

"We are surprised to learn today via UTMB's press release — after many months of silence from UTMB — that UTMB has decided to terminate its commercial contract with us. Aetna maintains open communication with UTMB and is disappointed that this was brought to our members’ attention before Aetna's," a company spokesperson told the Houston Chronicle.

Without a resolution, the contract is set to end May 6, 2021.

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