Hughston and United Healthcare at odds over contract agreement

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - "Basically, were not gonna be taking any more patients that have United Healthcare Insurance, that's the bottom line."

That's how Hughston Marketing Director John Carroll explains it.

The company sent out a press release and a letter to patients earlier this month, outlining the fact that the Hughston Clinic was terminating its contract with United Healthcare effective July 23rd and that Jack Hughston Memorial Hospital has "tendered its notice to end its relationship with United Healthcare as well."

"We've tried to negotiate reasonable rates and negotiations have broken down and we've decided to sever our relationship with this one particular insurance company," explains Carroll.

However, officials with United Healthcare told Newsleader Nine something completely different.

"We do not agree with the information in terms of this contract ending July 23rd, that is not accurate. We have a contract with them and will continue to reach an agreement on a new contract and it is not ending on July 23rd," says United Healthcare Spokesperson Cheryl Randolph.

After our initial interview, Carroll later confirmed that Hughston was still in talks with United.

He said, "Negotiations are ongoing, but at this time we have no plans to renew our contract with United Healthcare."

Carroll says the clinic and hospital aren't being reimbursed enough for its services from United and that's why they terminated the contract.

Yet, something else United disagrees with.

"Their claim that we have reduced reimbursement rates which we have not, we provided an offer that provided for increased reimbursement rates, their current reimbursements that they're receiving now have not decreased in any way," adds Randolph.

Hughston says approximately 800 patients would be affected by the change.

In addition to the clinic and hospital, the company has six satellite offices in Georgia and two in Alabama.

The letter to patients dated July 8th outlines what they should do during the transition.

Meanwhile, a company spokesperson from United says they're sending out their own letters this week, explaining that patients can in fact still use the clinic and hospital beyond July 23rd.

In the meantime, if patients have questions, United officials are asking them to call the number listed on the back of their card.