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Premera, MultiCare agreement maintains access to facilities for over 100K people

by By Tim Clouser/The Center Square
| May 25, 2024 5:44 PM

(The Center Square) — Premera Blue Cross and MultiCare Health Systems have agreed to the terms of a new contract, which will ensure members' access to approximately 1,000 healthcare providers statewide. 

"Premera Blue Cross is pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with MultiCare Health System," Amanda Lansford, Premera's external communications manager, wrote in an email. "This new agreement ensures that our members continue to have access to quality care at an affordable price and that MultiCare is fairly compensated."

The announcement came out Wednesday morning as a prior contract between the two not-for-profit organizations was set to expire at the end of the month. 

Premera and MultiCare had been in negotiations for months, a process that began with a termination notice, according to a statement that Premera has since removed from its website. 

"Effective immediately, this agreement allows patients to continue accessing high-quality care without disruption," said Kevin Maloney, media relations manager for MultiCare's Inland Northwest region, in a news release. "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."

Throughout negotiations, MultiCare maintained that Premera had reimbursed them far below the rate of inflation since 2019, so much so that it jeopardized members' access to roughly 1,000 healthcare providers statewide, according to previous reporting from The Center Square.

However, a representative from Premera told The Center Square that while inflation is up, MultiCare agreed to those rates during the last round of negotiations. 

Had the process failed, around 103,000 Premera members in Washington would have lost access to MultiCare facilities, according to reporting from Spokane's KHQ-TV.

"As we've always said, these negotiations are not about Premera; they are about our customers," Premera noted in its announcement. "We serve as their advocate during these discussions as we work with provider partners on practical solutions to keep healthcare affordable and accessible."