Facing a backlash from patients furious at the prospect of losing medical health care, Coventry Cares and ARH Healthcare were still in negotiations on Thursday. Community and Patient Advocate for Harlan ARH Hospital Mark Bell said the state has directed Coventry to continue paying for services to all providers for 30 days.
“We don’t know that Coventry will honor that because their contract is with us and we haven’t heard anything different,” said Bell. “As of midnight tonight (Thursday) it’s going to be expiring.”
Coventry Cares has threatened to cancel its contract with ARH Healthcare today affecting approximately 25,000 people in eastern Kentucky. The ARH Healthcare system includes eight hospitals, several clinics and home-health agencies.
According to the Associated Press, last year the state decided to switch Medicaid to a managed-care program as a way to save money. However, problems have arisen during its implementation. Coventry was one of three companies the state chose to manage health care services for Medicaid patients in most of the state.
Officials at the corporate offices of ARH Healthcare in Lexington said yesterday, “we are still negotiating with Coventry.”
The Associated Press reports Neville Wise, who is acting commissioner of the state Department for Medicaid Services, told the Lexington Herald-Leader she has notified Coventry Cares that they have to give 30 days notice before dropping a health care provider.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo began calling for a resolution on Thursday over the dispute between ARH and Coventry.
In a statement on Wednesday, Stumbo said, “After meeting with Cabinet Secretary Haynes, I am convinced that recipients enrolled in new Medicaid managed care programs will be provided services, and I have been assured that this will be the case. Making sure this takes place is a top priority of the state.
“However, we are all concerned with potential problems our employers have that might lead to lay-offs during these difficult economic times. The threat of lay-offs and the failure of our Medicaid managed care organizations (MCO) to act in good faith should not — and I believe will not — be tolerated from a legislative perspective. From the facts that were presented, there appears to be nothing that would justify the extreme lay-offs, which have been threatened.
“I’m also extremely concerned about the tactics that have been used by one of the MCOs to entice Medicaid eligibles to their company. I do not believe these actions were taken in good faith, and we should seek further evidence in this regard, to curtail this type of behavior. My opinion is this type of conduct borders on Medicaid fraud and could violate our consumer protection laws. I’m encouraged by the fact that the cabinet was in contact with the Attorney General’s office before our meeting. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely to protect those who depend on the system and the employees who depend on their job.”
Bell said a convoy will leave Harlan going to Frankfort is still set for Monday. He said interested parties are asked to meet in the parking lot of the Harlan Center at 8 a.m.
“We need to know ahead of time if you are planning to attend so we may arrange transportation for everyone if that is required,” said Bell. “You need to go to Facebook where an event has been created, click on that to register if you are attending. You may also contact the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce at 573-4717.”
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at firstname.lastname@example.org