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Geisinger, Highmark announce five-year contract

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Despite brouhaha over Highmark Inc.'s plan that charges more for treatment from Geisinger Health System than from some other providers, the two organizations today announced a five-year extension that will take their contract through 2019.

Under the new contract, "Geisinger Medical Center in Danville and Geisinger Clinic physicians will remain network providers for Highmark’s indemnity and managed care members, and will continue to participate in networks currently under contract," a news release said.

Highmark spokesman Leilyn Perri said Geisinger will remain on standard tier in the insurer's Community Blue Premier Flex plan. The plan gives enhanced value benefits or less cost when using providers classed as enhanced tier.

Geisinger's exclusion from the enhanced tier previously prompted Dr. Glenn Steele Jr., Geisinger's president and CEO, to call it "bad for central Pennsylvania" in an advertorial titled "Highmark flexes its muscles by limiting choice with new product."

Holy Spirit Health System is in the process of becoming a Geisinger affiliate. Asked about that in relation to the contract extension, Perri said some hospital systems negotiate for all the hospitals, and in other cases Highmark negotiates hospital by hospital. In any case, he said, Highmark has had a good relationship with Holy Spirit for many years.

"Working together with health systems like Geisinger will help to continue to drive value for our members as we partner to improve quality and affordability,” Mike Fiaschetti, Highmark's president of health markets, said in today's release. "This agreement will enable us to maintain our long-standing relationship with Geisinger Health System and provide our members with continued access to Geisinger’s excellent medical facilities and physicians. Their reputation for delivering outstanding care is nationally recognized.”

David Friel, Geisinger's vice president of third-party contracting, said Geisinger is pleased "to have brokered a new contract with Highmark that allows our patients with Highmark coverage to be able to continue to use their Geisinger doctors and hospitals.”

“We have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Highmark and look forward to working together on behalf of their members and our patients to ensure they are receiving Geisinger quality care,” Friel said.

Highmark said it will issue direct communications to its members, group customers, health care providers and producers to inform them that Geisinger Medical Center and Geisinger Clinic physicians will remain network providers.

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