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‘Huge relief’ as Vermont's largest health care provider and national insurance company reach a tentative deal

The front door of a building with a person going through the door.
Elodie Reed
/
VPR File
A UVM press release says the move ensures almost 3,000 families in Vermont and New York won't lose access to the health system.

Hundreds of Vermonters are no longer at imminent risk of losing access to health care providers through the University of Vermont Health Network.

That’s as the hospital system announced a deal UnitedHealthcare to continue to accept the insurance company's commercial plans.

As of Wednesday night, UVM's statement said they've reached a renewal agreement for the next year. However, a United representative told VPR the companies have only come to an agreement in principle. He added that the existing contract has been extended until the end of April and they're still finalizing a long-term agreement.

The news comes three days before the contract with the hospital system that covers United's commercial plans was set to expire because the parties couldn’t agree on how much UVM should be paid.

Many patients were notified about the dispute with just over a month's notice.

More from VPR: Vermont's largest hospital system and a massive insurance company are deadlocked. Thousands of patients are caught in the middle

In a statement, Dr. John Brumstead, CEO of the UVM Health Network said "this is a partial victory,” citing the need to cover the cost of providing care. "We regret the disruption and stress" caused by the negotiation, he added.

These types of disputes are "not infrequent" according to Dr. Kevin Schulman, a health economics researcher at Stanford University who VPR interviewed earlier this month. He explained they've become more common as health systems in Vermont and across the country consolidate and health care prices rise.

"There's no heroes in this," Schulman said.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Lexi Krupp:

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Updated: March 29, 2022 at 8:59 PM EDT
The story has been updated to include a statement from UnitedHealthcare that the existing contract has been extended 30 days, and they have not yet finalized a contract for the next year.
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