NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Five members of Congress from New York are pushing UnitedHealthcare to resolve contract negotiations with Montefiore’s hospital system.
The dispute left 60,000 patients with the burden of finding new health care providers in the middle of a pandemic.READ MORE: COVID Vaccine In New York: Walk-In Appointments Offered To All New Yorkers Over 50 At City-Run Sites
At midnight Jan. 1, the ball in Times Square wasn’t the only thing being dropped. So too was Montefiore Health System from UnitedHealthcare’s network.
“It’s almost like a fulltime job trying to find all new providers,” said Sara Louise Petty, of Larchmont. “It’s all of my doctors. Dermatologist, gynecologist, GP, ENT, you name it.”
Petty now has to find about seven new doctors — not just for her, but her family, too.
“A lot of doctors aren’t taking new patients, maybe because we’re in a global pandemic,” she said.
“It has greatly impacted our ability to care for patients that I’ve been caring for for almost 25 years,” said Dr. Amy Eisenberg, a pediatrician with Scarsdale Medical Group.
UnitedHealthcare and Montefiore were in negotiations for a new contract when the old one expired.
United says it offered to extend the current one for five months while they negotiated, but Montefiore said no.
Colleen Blye is the executive vice president and CFO of Montefiore Medicine.
“We thought it would be in the best interest of our patients to get the deal finalized rather than extend the unknown,” she said.
“Montefiore has requested a 28% increase over the next three years,” said Michael McGuire, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of New York Commercial Business. “Asking for those types of increases over the next three years is really unsustainable. Montefiore’s commercial rates are the highest in New York City.”READ MORE: 18-Year-Old Saadiq Teague Arrested After Being Spotted With AK-47 At Times Square Subway Station
“We’ve only asked for single-digit annual increases consistent with our other payer relationships,” Blye said.
While United says talks continue, Blye said, “We can’t even get them to talk to us.”
New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz released a letter he wrote to the CEO of UnitedHealthcare calling on the corporation to end the dispute.
“It seems to me that UnitedHealthcare is putting people who are among the most vulnerable to this pandemic at increased medical risk simply because you don’t think you are making enough money. End this dispute. Do your part, as one of the wealthiest corporations in the entire world, to help keep people alive. Don’t sell out the Bronx just to pad the bank accounts of you and your shareholders,” Dinowitz wrote.
Patients like Petty are caught in the middle.
“To be honest, I fault both,” she said.
She was supposed to have an important scan done but is now scrambling to find somewhere new to do it.
“The health care system shouldn’t be operating on greed. It should be operating on what’s best for patient,” Petty said.
“Middle of a pandemic, some people are delaying health care, having to find new doctors, what do you say to those members?” CBS2’s Alice Gainer asked.
“We want to make sure that they know if they have access to other doctors in the marketplace, other facilities in the marketplace, help them find those doctors,” McGuire said.
Some members can apply for continuity of care from UnitedHealthcare to stay under the care of Montefiore doctors, for example, if you’re pregnant or receiving cancer treatments.MORE NEWS: Prince Philip's Funeral Held At St. George's Chapel On Grounds Of Windsor Castle
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