Public Employee Benefits Program starts process for new healthcare contract
After being told Hometown Health plans to terminate its healthcare agreement with the state in a year, the Public Employee Benefits Program board voted on Thursday to seek a new deal by June 30, 2019.
Ty Winfeldt of Hometown Health told the board he understands PEBP isn’t happy with the exclusive contract his organization has to provide healthcare and hospital services at Renown.
“Renown is not interested in staying beyond a year,” said Board Chairman Patrick Cates.
He said the Request for Proposal PEBP ultimately puts out before then will almost certainly be significantly different than the current contract.
“I’m confident the next contract we pursue we’ll insist on cost controls,” he said.
In addition, he said board members and plan participants have made it clear they want broader access to hospitals and other facilities outside the Renown network.
“I’d like to see all facilities included,” Cates said.
Hometown Health officials have made it clear they believe their current contract is exclusive and doesn’t allow PEBP to make deals to get state worker access to outside facilities such as St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno.
When PEBP approved a pilot program with St. Mary’s Health earlier this year, Hometown Health and Renown warned the loss of exclusivity would force them to increase rates to state workers. Executive Officer Damon Haycock told the board there’s nothing in the existing contract to prevent Hometown Health/Renown from raising its rates to whatever they wish.
So a compromise was struck where, in trade for canceling the St. Mary’s pilot program, Hometown Health would agree not to raise rates for 20 months and cap increases at 2 percent in 2020 and 2021.
But the desire of PEBP to have broader access fueled Thursday’s discussion and the board voted to begin by asking all providers including Hometown Health, Carson Tahoe Health and St. Mary’s Health to discuss all aspects of a new contract to “assess the available opportunities. At member Tom Verducci’s suggestion, that will include asking plan participants what they want and, if that means an increase in premiums, whether they are willing to pay more for better access and possibly higher quality service.”
Winfeldt agreed, telling the board they should do just that, “so that everybody feels good about the network you have going forward.”