Northwest Emergency Physicians (NEP) has agreed to extend its contract with Regence and Asuris while they continue to negotiate a new long-term agreement. The potential termination (effective July 1, 2012) that was previously communicated to members will not occur. Regence & Asuris fully expect to be able to reach a mutually acceptable contract agreement with NEP; but in the event they are unable to do so, they will notify members appropriately.
Northwest Emergency Physicians continue to be contracted providers with Regence and Asuris. These contracts are key in keeping your medical premium costs as low as possible.
The AWC Trust supports Regence & Asuris’s efforts to sign contracts with providers that are fair to the providers, and provide reasonable reimbursement fees.
As promised, Regence and Asuris will be sending letters to your employees that received their earlier communications, telling them the good news of the successful contract extension. There will be no disruption to your service or coverage when seeing these ER providers. Below are the updated letters to covered employees.
Regence NW Emergency Physicians employee letter
Asuris NW Emergency Physicians employee letter
Important additional information
Are these doctors still terminating from the Regence/Asuris network?
Northwest Emergency Physicians agreed to extend its contract with Regence/Asuris while they continue to negotiate a new long-term agreement. At this time, the doctors are still in the network, and members can receive care from them at their in-network benefit level.
I read in the newspaper that the contract ends on September 30 (and also October 31) – is that true?
Currently, there is no termination date – the current contract remains in place, and the Northwest Emergency Physicians continue to participate in the Regence/Asuris network. If they are not able to reach a mutually acceptable agreement for a new contract by September 1, 2012, both Regence/Asuris and NEP have the option of issuing a termination notice, but they believe that is not likely to occur.
How likely is it that the contract will terminate again?
Regence and Asuris are committed to working with NEP to reach an agreement that will be acceptable to both parties, as well as fair to members, and they fully expect to be able to do so.
What happens if Regence/Asuris is unable to reach an agreement with NEP before the deadline?
While they expect to be able to come to a new agreement, if they are unable to do so they will notify customers and members by mail. The Trust will also communicate with member cities of any potential impacts to covered employees.
How many members are affected?
There are approximately 100,000 members across the state of Washington who live in the vicinity of emergency rooms where NEP doctors practice. Regence/Asuris have notified these members that these doctors continue to participate in the network.
I also read in the News Tribune that Regence is raising its rates again. Why can’t you just pay the doctors what they ask when you have so much money in surplus and keep raising rates?
Regence has to raise its premium rates to cover the rising cost of medical care. That’s why it’s so important for them to negotiate reasonable contract rates with network providers in order to keep members’ premiums as affordable as possible.
Capital reserves, or surplus, are necessary to ensure that Regence is able to pay members’ claims no matter what. The individual insurance market is vulnerable to cost increases and changes in the marketplace. This is an uncertain time in the health care industry, with the full implications of health care reform still unknown. While other insurers have left the Washington market, gone out of business, or eliminated products, Regence remains stable and committed to continuing to offer a variety of health insurance products for individuals and families.
Find out more about what Regence members receive for their premium dollar.
News article inaccuracies
Below is information Regence and Asuris provided the Trust about recent news article inaccuracies:
News articles published in the Tacoma News Tribune and the Lakewood/Enumclaw Patch contained inaccuracies about the duration of the current contract and the number of members who were notified of the change. The newspapers have agreed to publish corrections, but members, customers and providers who saw the original print and online versions may have questions about some of the misinformation contained in these news reports:
- Regence/Asuris is committed to providing our members with access to the care they need at affordable prices. We are pleased that Northwest Emergency Physicians has rescinded their termination and agreed to work with us to come to a mutually acceptable agreement that is fair to our members.
- Members may continue to seek emergency room services at any hospital, including hospitals where Northwest Emergency Physicians doctors practice. They will not be responsible for higher out-of-pocket costs when they receive services from Northwest Emergency Physicians doctors.
- Members’ financial responsibility is always lower when they seek care from participating network providers. At this time facilities that are affiliated with Northwest Emergency Physicians continue to be participating in the Regence BlueShield/Asuris Northwest Health network.
- Regence/Asuris is communicating this update to members who received notification of the potential termination. Members who have questions should contact Regence/Asuris customer service at the toll-free number on the back of their member identification card.
- We are continuing to work with Northwest Emergency Physicians in an effort to reach a long-term contract agreement at reasonable rates that are comparable to other network providers. We will notify members In the event that we are unable to reach such an agreement with Northwest Emergency Physicians.