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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

No disruption of care: MultiCare reaches deal to keep Premera-insured patients in-network

Spokane's MultiCare Deaconess Hospital in July of 2022.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Crisis was averted Wednesday for thousands of Premera-insured patients who were on the verge of losing in-network access to MultiCare health providers. With a new compensation deal in place, these patients will not see their health care disrupted.

According to statements from Premera Blue Cross and MultiCare, the new contract affects those with Premera commercial Individual Exchange Plan and Medicare Advantage products.

“Effective immediately, this agreement allows patients to continue accessing high-quality care without disruption,” said MultiCare spokesperson Kevin Maloney in a statement. “At MultiCare, our mission is partnering for healing and a healthy future, and this new agreement reflects our commitment to the communities we serve by maintaining essential partnerships that prioritize patient welfare.”

According to Premera spokesperson Amanda Langsford, MultiCare will be “fairly compensated” under the new agreement. But she declined to provide any specific details of the agreement itself.

“We approached this negotiation with the same philosophy we always have: use data to help make informed, fact-based decisions; equitably compensate the hospital system while remaining competitive in the market; and keep costs low for our customers,” Langsford said in a statement. “As we’ve always said, these negotiations are not about Premera; they are about our customers. We serve as their advocate during these discussions as we work with provider partners on practical solutions to keep healthcare affordable and accessible.”

While an agreement still seemed in doubt, Premera claimed MultiCare was requesting double-digit percentage increases that Premera “just could not afford,” Premera Vice President David Condon said earlier this month. At the time, MultiCare argued they needed these large increases to offset inflation.

The deal comes more than a week before the May 31 deadline at which all Premera-insured MultiCare patients would have become out-of-network patients and either had to find a new doctor or paid large out-of-pocket costs. According to Premera, approximately 103,000 individuals would have been affected statewide, and 11,000 of their members just in Spokane.