UPDATE 3 P.M.: Negotiations have been extended to August 16, Anthem spokesman Mike Bowman said. It is the second two-week extension in negotiations that were originally set to end July 18. Adventist and Anthem mutually agreed to extend negotiations.
Negotiations between Adventist Health and Anthem Blue Cross are still in full swing despite the upcoming contract expiration date on Monday, Aug. 1.
The insurance company and hospital system mutually agreed to extend contract negotiations for two weeks when an agreement was not reached by the original July 18 deadline. It is unclear if an agreement will be made by Aug. 1, but a representative of Adventist said negotiations will be extended again if necessary.
“We’ve come a long way in the past couple of weeks, I think we finally have some of the right people at the table from Anthem and we appreciate where we’re headed,” said Jason Wells, president of Adventist Health Mendocino Coast, Ukiah Valley, and Howard Memorial, in the Thursday night Mendocino Coast Health Care District Board Meeting.
“So we have the two week extension that goes till August 1, and I think that we will have either good news by August 1 or it will be pushed again as they continue to come closer,” he continued.
A representative from Anthem did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.
In its contract negotiations, Adventist has asked Anthem to pay the hospital system higher reimbursement rates. Adventist representatives claim Anthem pays the hospital system much lower rates than other hospital systems in the state.
During the first round of negotiations, spokespeople from Adventist and Anthem declined to provide information about specific reimbursement rates.
Anthem came closer to the reimbursement rates Adventist asked for during the past two weeks of negotiations, but “they’re still not at the [sustainable] number,” Wells said during the meeting Thursday.
The negotiations could affect thousands of Anthem insurance holders in Mendocino County who rely on Adventist as the only hospital-based care in the county. If the contract were to expire, some individuals who carry Anthem may need to pay out-of-pocket costs at Adventist hospitals or travel outside of the county to a different hospital system.
CORRECTION: The story has been updated to clarify options for Anthem customers in the event of a contract expiration.