June 18, 2010

Gillibrand Urges Aetna And Continuum Health Partners CEO’s To Come Back To The Negotiating Table

Tens of Thousands of New Yorkers Could Soon Be Forced to Pay Higher Health Care Costs at Manhattan, Brooklyn Hospitals

New York, NY – As contract negotiations between Aetna, Inc. and Continuum Health Partners have stalled, forcing thousands of New Yorkers to face higher health care costs at five major hospitals in Manhattan and Brooklyn, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urged the CEO’s of both companies today to return to the bargaining table to reach a new three-year agreement so patients can continue to receive quality, affordable care. 

Senator Gillibrand wrote, “I urge you to re-enter negotiations on a new three-year agreement for reimbursement rates, for the sake of the patients that need health coverage… New York’s patients cannot afford further delay.”

This month, talks over renewing a new three-year deal for reimbursement rates between insurance company Aetna, Inc. and Continuum Health Partners, a local hospital chain which covers Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, and Brooklyn’s Beth Israel's Kings Highway Division and Long Island College Hospital, reached an impasse. Approximately 48,000 Aetna patients who go to these hospitals for treatment will soon be forced to pay a more expensive reimbursement rate or seek medical care elsewhere.

With New York singles and families already shelling out one of the nation’s highest average premiums with $6,630 and $13,296 respectively, and with Aetna profiting more than a billion dollars last year, Senator Gillibrand urged both parties to come together to consider the needs of hard-working families. The Senator also expressed concern over interruption of care for patients who decide to change health care providers.

Full text of the letter is below.

 

Ronald A. Williams
Chairman/CEO
Aetna Inc.
151 Farmington Avenue
Hartford, CT   06156

 

Stanley Brezenoff
President and CEO
Continuum Health Partners
555 West 57th St
New York, NY 10019

 

Dear Mr. Williams and Mr. Brezenoff,

 

I am writing to express my concern and dismay that negotiations between Aetna Inc. and Continuum Health Partners are dissolving.  I urge you to re-enter negotiations on a new three-year agreement for reimbursement rates, for the sake of the patients that need health coverage. 

 In 2009, Aetna Inc. reported a profit of $1.28 billion and spent $2.8 million to lobby against comprehensive health care reform.   At the same time, they raised rates on patients by an average of 20.5%. A collapse of negotiations will place a further strain on the budgets of families already struggling by forcing them to pay higher premiums or the “out-of-network” co-pays that would be required to go to other hospitals. New Yorkers already pay some of the highest average premiums in the nation with $6,630 for single people and $13,296 for families.  I urge you to put the care of the patients, and the needs of working families, above profit.

 

Furthermore, I am also concerned about the interruption of service for patients who would have to change health care providers. This could lower the quality of care for these patients due to new doctors who wouldn’t have access to new patient histories.

 

Again, I respectfully request that you reopen negotiations to address these issues as soon as possible.  New York’s patients cannot afford further delay. Please let me know if you have any further questions or if I can assist in facilitating this conversation in any way.