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Envision & UnitedHealthcare agree to extend contract after intense, lengthy battle — 5 insights

Following months of termination threats and legal disputes between the two companies, Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealthcare agreed to extend its nationwide payer contract with Nashville, Tenn.-based Envision (AmSurg) Healthcare.

Here's what you should know:

1. The agreement ensures all UnitedHealthcare beneficiaries will retain in-network access to Envision's hospital-based services, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

UnitedHealthcare said, "This agreement ensures the people we serve have continued access to Envision's hospital-based services while delivering better value to our customers and consumers."

Envision President and CEO Christopher Holden called it "an opportunity for clinicians and payers to work together to make progress toward a more effective healthcare system."

2. In November, the companies said they were still trying to reach an agreement on the contract, which would have expired at the end of the year. Envision launched a website explaining where the negotiation process stood and claimed it wasn't seeking any rate increases from UnitedHealthcare in 2019.

3. At the time, a UnitedHealthcare spokesperson told Becker's the payer remained committed to finding a solution. However, UnitedHealthcare said in a statement Envision was "already charging more than two times the average cost of other [emergency room] physicians in UnitedHealthcare's network." UnitedHealthcare said its customers wanted lower rates.

4. Envision signed three contracts with other major payers in preparation for the UnitedHealthcare contract lapse. UnitedHealth Group notified 300 hospitals about the pending expiration.

5. The companies' clashes began in March, when Envision sued UnitedHealthcare over allegations the payer refused to add Envision physicians to its network and lowered negotiated payment rates. UnitedHealthcare criticized Envision's billing practices in response and threatened to terminate their contract.

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