Sutter Health, Blue Cross Reach Contract Agreement through 2003; Negotiations a ‘Marked Contrast’ from 2000
Sutter Health and Blue Cross of California announced last week that they have reached an agreement to extend their contract through December 2003, a "marked contrast" from negotiations in 2000, the Sacramento Bee reports. Sutter and Blue Cross could not reach an agreement over reimbursement rates in negotiations in late 2000, leaving thousands of Blue Cross members without access to Sutter doctors for several weeks after the companies allowed their contract to expire. However, the Bee reports that the new agreement, signed "well in advance" of the Dec. 31, 2002, contract expiration date, will ensure that 60,000 Blue Cross members in Northern California will have uninterrupted access to Sutter's physicians and 26 hospitals. According to a spokesperson for Sutter, the negotiations "went more smoothly" this year "because the two sides were not as far apart" on reimbursement rates as in 2000. The companies would not disclose the terms of the agreement. "The early negotiation and settlement process demonstrates that we can work together to reach agreements that ensure our patients have continuity in their care and continued access to our health resources," Van Johnson, president and CEO of Sutter, said (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 3/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.