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Monday, June 24, 2024

Recent contract to return healthcare services for over 16,000 Yolo County residents

Dignity Health recently reached an agreement with Aetna in response to an expired contract 

 

By OLIVIA HOKR — city@theaggie.org 

 

Dignity Health recently announced that they reached a multi-year agreement that will help return healthcare services for the 16,000 Yolo County residents who lost access to their providers over a contract expiration. 

“Dignity Health is pleased to announce we have reached a new multi-year agreement with Aetna that will allow patients in California, Arizona and Nevada to maintain in-network access to Dignity Health hospitals, physicians, ambulatory surgery centers, and ancillary providers,” the group said in a press release

On March 31, the contract between Dignity Health and Partnership HealthPlan expired after failed ongoing contract negotiations, resulting in thousands of Yolo County citizens without access to their essential healthcare services. 

Partnership is a nonprofit healthcare organization that provides over 900,000 low-income communities in Northern California with Medi-Cal benefits through government funding. After the initial expiry, Partnership released a statement to ensure citizens that they were working toward an agreement. 

On April 9, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors meeting agenda included an update on the impacts the negotiations had on residents.

Nolan Sullivan, a Partnership board member and director of the Health and Human Services Agency, presented information regarding the standstill between Dignity Health and Partnership. Staff on both sides worked diligently every single day, according to Sullivan. However, he also explained the problems that occurred between the two organizations. 

“Both groups have a pretty strong vested interest to make a deal,” Sullivan said at the meeting. “The problem, frankly, is sort of twofold. The first is that Partnership is reimbursed by [the California Department of Health Care Services] to pay Medi-Cal rates and they have a cap, so Partnership can only go so high without going into a net loss […] Dignity is trying to cover their cost, and to some extent they are trying to get [profits] out of the deal. So they’re both sort of stonewalling each other.”

Chief Health Services Officer of Partnership Katherine Barresi shared that the disagreements were in regards to costs that Partnership cannot afford, according to KCRA

“As a Medi-Cal managed care plan, all funds come from the government,” Partnership said in a press release. “Payments to providers depend on revenue from the state and the plan cannot rely on lucrative corporate contracts like commercial health insurance.”

The contract complications have resulted in canceled doctor’s appointments and discontinued care services. Without access to Dignity Health services and facilities, residents have had to find new primary physicians and new treatment centers. Partnership clarified that in some cases, they may be able to make arrangements for patients.

“Partnership may be able to arrange for some members in the middle of care to continue to see their current [Dignity Health] doctor until treatment is completed,” Partnership said. “This may include care for acute conditions, cancer treatment, pregnancy, and some serious chronic conditions.”

At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Jim Provenza of District 4 stressed his concern for the impacted Yolo County citizens’ ability to find new care. Not only is Provenza concerned about the urgency of citizen’s healthcare needs, but he is also concerned with the competition of the thousands who are looking for new doctors. 

“Some of these people are sick, very sick — some are alone,” Provenza said at the meeting. “So you’re alone, you’re sick, you’re losing your doctor and you’re competing against 17,000 other people. How in the world do you find a doctor under those circumstances?” 

Jonathan Raven, former chief deputy district attorney of Yolo County, spoke up during public comment to express his disappointment in the two organizations’ failing efforts. In his years of involvement with Yolo County, Raven became close with his constituents, deepening his worries for the vulnerable citizens being impacted. 

“I’ve worked with this population extensively in our collaborative courts and know families who have loved ones impacted,” Raven said. “Can you imagine someone who lives with psychosis getting a letter saying they have to get new doctors? That person then has to navigate this challenging terrain and part with doctors who have been treating them and find new doctors.”

Throughout negotiations, Dignity Health and Partnership were discussing a new contract to ensure that citizens would receive the care and services they need. 

“Partnership is committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith with Dignity to reach an agreement soon,” Partnership said. “Dignity has been a valuable partner and Partnership looks forward to having them as a part of the network again.”

The Yolo County Board of Supervisors shared a press release to emphasize their stance on the issue and encourage a successful resolution for the safety of their communities. 

“Both parties must recognize their shared responsibility to uphold the wellbeing of the population they serve,” the press release reads. “By working collaboratively and in good faith, we can find solutions that meet the needs of both Partnership HealthPlan and Dignity Health while ensuring uninterrupted access to healthcare services for our most vulnerable residents.”

Dignity Health shared how this new agreement with Aetna will impact the lives of their patients.

“This is a win for our patients who deserve access to high quality, high-value health care services close to home, and we appreciate their patience as we have worked through this process,” Dignity Health said in their press release. “We sincerely appreciate our patients’ understanding during the negotiations.”

 

Written by: Olivia Hokr — city@theaggie.org 

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