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United and Care New England still negotiating

December 28, 2010

Time is running out for Care New England (CNE) and United Health Care to finalize their new contract.  It expires this Friday, December 31st.

Although there’s no immediate danger for Rhode Islanders that have United Health Care- United has to apply for permission to drop Care New England hospitals from its insurance plan, and that requires at least a 90 day process- the situation is still pretty dicey.

Representatives from both entities tell The Pulse that their goal is to reach an agreement before or on Friday, but can’t make any guarantees.

The two sides are meeting today to work on closing what Care New England calls “a gap” between the kind of reimbursements the hospital chain wants and what United is willing to offer.  A United spokeswoman says the health insurance plan is very focused on bringing the contract talks to a conclusion, but the deal must help to keep health care affordable for its members.

A Care New England spokeswoman says the hospital is also taking the negotiations seriously.

It appears there’s no plan B for what happens if the contract isn’t finished by Friday.  CNE says care for United members will continue to be seamless until the Department of Health rules on United’s request to drop the hospitals from its coverage.  United says it continues to file paperwork in that case, but it’s hopeful it won’t have to move forward with the application.

My bet is they’ll settle this at the last hour, or maybe make a deal a few days later.  But who knows.  What do you think?

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