Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay leaders speak out about dispute between BayCare, UHealthcare

CLEARWATER — An ongoing dispute between Tampa Bay's biggest hospital group and one of its biggest health insurers has drawn the ire of the region's government and business leaders.

At a news conference Friday, the leaders urged BayCare Health System and UnitedHealthcare to resolve their differences and avoid having policy holders pay more out of pocket for treatment.

Contract talks between the two companies ended late last month without an agreement. The resulting showdown has left nearly half a million people in the bay area, including many government employees, with only limited access to BayCare hospitals.

BayCare says United owes it $11 million in unpaid claims and needs to increase its reimbursement rates, or else its Medicare Advantage customers can't use some of the area's most popular hospitals.

United says BayCare is throwing its weight around to win contract concessions that will only increase costs to consumers.

"Both UnitedHealthcare and BayCare need to take a look at what impact this is going to have on more than 400,000 people in the bay area," said Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, who likened the impasse to the "fiscal cliff" talks going on among congressional leaders in Washington, D.C.

"The impact is real, and it's totally avoidable," Welch said. "Both sides see what's coming, but it's really an act of political gamesmanship."

At Friday's news conference — which was also attended by Pinellas Commissioners Janet Long and Karen Seel, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and several other elected leaders — officials implored the two sides to adhere to a set of principles that include putting aside "purely selfish interests" and exercising corporate responsibility.

With the impasse stretching for nearly two weeks now, the effects are already being felt by thousands of United patients, who are having to pay much more for health care as they seek treatment from out-of-network providers.

They also can no longer use BayCare facilities, including St. Anthony's, St. Joseph's, Morton Plant and Mease hospitals. Patients can still use emergency facilities at those hospitals, which are open to all under federal law.

If the two sides don't come to an agreement soon, Pinellas County leaders say they will have to explore working with other health insurance providers.

"I'm hopeful," Welch said. "It would seem to be the common sense thing to do. I think both organizations can do a lot of damage to their brand."

Tampa Bay leaders speak out about dispute between BayCare, UHealthcare 12/07/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 7, 2012 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  2. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  3. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion

    Fire

    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  4. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  5. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.