Coverage Dispute Mars Hospital Celebration

POTTSTOWN PA – The upbeat arrival Monday (Oct. 2, 2017) of Reading PA-based Tower Health as the new owner of what is now called Pottstown Hospital, 1600 E. High St., was marred by a controversy that could mean thousands of area residents insured under Independence Blue Cross health plans may be asked to pay more of their health care bills because the hospital is no longer in its coverage network.

A corporate battle erupted between Tower and Independence over terms and conditions to continue including Pottstown, and four other hospitals Tower bought from Community Health Systems, in the Blue Cross-recognized system of providers.

A statement from Tower said it was “fully prepared” to assume for 30 days the same agreement terms and rate structures at the five acquisitions that had existed under Community Health, and then work with Blue Cross to negotiate longer-term contracts. Independence responded, Tower said, by seeking concessions. Among them: a promise that Tower and its own health plan, Tower/UPMC, would not compete against Independence in markets the hospitals served.

“Tower Health did not accept these new terms,” its statement said. It has reached agreements with other third-party payers, Tower added.

If the stand-off persists, Independence-covered patients who attempt to use Pottstown Hospital services or procedures could pay comparably more expensive out-of-network coverage rates. Independence estimated about 120,000 insureds across the region were affected. They still have some time, though.

Independence countered by saying, in its own statement, it would honor in-network coverage at all five hospitals (the others are Phoenixville, Coatesville, Philadelphia, and West Grove), their “entities and physicians they employ, during at least the next 30 days.” It also said it was reaching out to its members to communicate the dispute status “by letters, a wide range of digital media, and text messaging.”

Tower said it “remains positive and open to continued dialogue with (Independence) in the future for the benefit of our patients and the communities we proudly serve, together.”

Photo by The Post Publications

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