West Reading, Pa. – Though Reading Health System/Tower Health was fully prepared to accept assignment of existing agreement terms and rate structures with Independence Blue Cross (IBC), on Friday, September 29, IBC notified Reading Heath System/Tower Health of their intent to not permit assignment of existing IBC contracts with Brandywine Hospital, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Jennersville Hospital, Phoenixville Hospital and Pottstown Hospital to Tower Health. Reading Heath System/Tower Health requested assignment of the existing contracts and agreements and then to work with IBC to negotiate a long-term contract within 30 days after the official launch of Tower Health. All other major insurance companies have agreed to the assignment, making IBC the only exception. In response, IBC requested a series of concessions in order to agree to the assignment. In addition to rate reductions, IBC included a non-compete provision in the service areas of the Tower Health/UPMC Health Plan products. Tower Health did not accept these new terms.
IBC will not allow assignment of the existing provider agreements without these terms and IBC ended the contractual relationship with the new Tower Health Hospitals.
IBC has chosen not to contract with Tower Health because of its ownership interest in Tower Health/UPMC Health Plan. It is important for our community to know that IBC currently has participating provider agreements with several local healthcare providers that also have an ownership interest in a competitive health plan such as Health Partners Plan, whose owners include Aria, Einstein, Episcopal, Temple and Tenet. IBC also currently has contractual agreements with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in the region, but has chosen not to contract with Tower Health which operates much the same as an ACO.
By declining to assign the existing agreements to Tower Health, IBC has chosen to restrict access to the low cost, quality providers in our markets. Tower Health is, and will continue to be, a participating provider in Tower Health/UPMC Health Plan, Aetna, Cigna, Capital Blue Cross, Highmark, United HealthCare, and other health plans. A complete list of plans in which Tower Health participates is available on the system’s website.
IBCs position not to agree to assignment of existing IBC contracts with Tower Health’s new hospitals impacts patients who seek care at any Tower Health Medical Group practice, Tower Health hospital based clinic and at all Tower Health hospitals. Individuals with additional questions about how this may impact you or your family can contact Tower Health at [email protected].
Tower Health remains positive and open to continued dialogue with IBC in the future for the benefit of our patients and the communities we proudly serve, together.