Sunday, June 17, 2018
News Roundup

AARP Medicare plans end relationship with Moffitt Cancer Center

PALM HARBOR — Ed Kraycik has been in an AARP HMO since he went on Medicare eight years ago. That streak is about to end.

In 2014, AARP's MedicareComplete HMO will cease covering treatment at Tampa's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. That's a priority for Kraycik because a friend of his died at another hospital after a botched cancer surgery.

"I don't have cancer, but if I ever do, there's only one place I want to have surgery, and that's Moffitt,'' Kraycik said. "It's one of the premier cancer centers in the country, so this is serious.''

Medicare's open enrollment period, when people pick their coverage for next year, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Health and drug plans bearing the AARP name and administered by United HealthCare, are among the most popular products on the market.

Last year, AARP plans lost hundreds of Tampa Bay members while United HealthCare and BayCare Health System haggled over payment rates. The dispute affected about 400,000 people of all ages in a variety of insurance plans. The Moffitt change is limited to AARP's MedicareComplete plans: one HMO and two PPOs.

More than 51,000 people in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties are enrolled in those MedicareComplete plans, a United spokeswoman said.

For several years, the MedicareComplete plans treated Moffitt and doctors in its medical group as if they were network providers, even though they were not. Plan members made small, pre-established copayments and the plans paid the balance.

But as of Jan. 1, MedicareComplete's HMO members will have no coverage at Moffitt. PPO members will have to pay, out-of-pocket, the out-of-network rate, which was $375 a day in 2013.

AARP/United HealthCare Medicare drug and supplement plans are not affected. Nor are other United HealthCare plans.

The MedicareComplete arrangement with Moffitt "was intended to be short-term,'' United HealthCare spokeswoman Sarah Bearce said in an email. "Over the years, many of the hospitals in the Tampa area have improved their cancer treatment/specialty care capabilities. Our members in need of cancer treatment can receive appropriate care at the hospitals that participate in our network.''

Moffitt is "very disappointed,'' said chief financial officer Janene Culumber. Roughly 2,500 AARP members received some kind of screening or treatment at Moffitt in 2012 — about 5 percent of the cancer center's caseload.

United "did not ask us for a rate decrease or anything,'' Culumber said. Moffitt takes Medicare rates for these patients so she was unsure how the insurer's decision would save money. "They just decided they would make these patients out of network,'' she said.

Russell Silverman, executive director of the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, called United's move "a bad decision."

"Moffitt is a well-respected cancer institution. Any insurer ought to have a relationship with an institution of that quality," he said.

United is shedding little light on reasons behind the action. Silverman suspects it believes it might save money if its enrollees get cancer care at a general, rather than speciality, hospital.

Four companies that do include Moffitt in their networks will offer Medicare plans in the bay area in 2014: Aetna, Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Coventry and Humana.

Contact Stephen Nohlgren at [email protected]

Comments
Fatherís Day on the water

Fatherís Day on the water

Luis Santana | TimesBoaters take advantage of the calm seas and warm weather to enjoy the waters near the Dunedin Causeway on Fatherís Day. Dozens of boats were beached along the shores of Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island State Park.
Updated: 3 hours ago
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says heís willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

CHICAGO — Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in downtown Chicago and did what any kid might do when coming face to face with the nation’s most famous soldier: She ...
Updated: 12 hours ago
1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

TRENTON, N.J ó Shooting broke out at an all-night art festival in Trenton, New Jersey, early Sunday, sending people stampeding from the scene and leaving one suspect dead and 20 people injured, a local prosecutor said. Many of the 20 injured were tre...
Published: 06/17/18

spain600 migrants allowed off ships after rescueAbout 600 migrants disembarked from three ships Sunday in the port of Valencia, more than a week after they had been rescued at sea only to be turned away by Italy and Malta. Arriving separately, the Aq...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., June 17, midday:87 662 6806e_SRit48442Sun., June 17, evening:66 701 0866e_SRit27697Fantasy 5Sunday...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Gunfire erupts at festival; 22 hurt

Gunfire erupts at festival; 22 hurt

TRENTON, N.J. ó Gunmen opened fire at an all-night arts and music festival early Sunday morning, sending people running over each other in the scramble to safety, authorities said. One suspect was killed and 22 people, including two suspects, were in...
Updated: 3 hours ago