Make us your home page

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

  1. "They're the players that we have" is really an alarm bell


    The other day, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith was asked about the lack of production and pressure from the defensive line, especially off the edge.

    Then it happened.

  2. Police seek public's help as they investigate third death in Seminole Heights


    TAMPA — Police are seeking the public's help in their investigation of three suspicious deaths in southeast Seminole Heights during the past two weeks.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  3. Listen: Soldier's widow shares her call with Trump


    Natasha De Alencar had just returned home on April 12 after making T-shirts and pillowcases in her husband's memory when the Army casualty assistance officer told her there was someone on the phone for her. It was President Donald Trump.

    Army Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar was killed during a firefight with Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan on April 8, 2017. His widow, Natasha De Alencar has shared the condolence call she had with President Donald Trump on April 12. [Image from video via Washington Post]
  4. Superiority complex: USF continues to battle schedule, expectations


    TAMPA — His voice, a perpetually scratchy bellow, betrays conviction. USF coach Charlie Strong has been asked if he believes he has the 16th-best team in America. Hesitation doesn't precede his response. Resolution fuels it.

    Does USF deserve its No. 16 national ranking? Coach Charlie Strong says there's no doubt. He expects that his Bulls can match up with any Division I-A program. (Octavio Jones, Times)
  5. Guest column: Girl Scouts designed to help girls excel on their own terms


    This column was written to coincide with the International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11. It comes on the heels of an announcement from the Boy Scouts of America that the organization will begin accepting girls.

    Girl Scouts like these, earning a patch at the Medical Center of Trinity earlier this year, are exposed to the best leadership experience in the world, says Jessica Muroff, who runs the organization locally. [Times files]