Altoona Regional Health System and Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield officials are continuing efforts to negotiate a new contract.
Highmark officials visited Altoona Thursday "to explain to Highmark customers and insurance agents what is going on and to clarify any questions they may have and how we are trying to resolve the differences," said Michael Weinstein, Highmark spokesman.
The present five-year contract, which enables the approximately 35,000 Highmark subscribers in Blair County to have access to the health system facilities, is due to expire June 30.
The two sides have been negotiating for several months and have yet to reach an agreement.
"We are trying to reach an agreement that achieves a balance between reimbursing the health system for care provided to Highmark members while also recognizing the needs and concerns of businesses to maintain comprehensive and affordable health care," Weinstein said.
The health system wants an agreement that is fair to it and good for the individuals and businesses it serves, Altoona Region President and CEO?Jerry Murray said.
"We have successfully reached such agreements using a standardized payment system with every other major commercial insurance provider, and we are sure we will do the same with Highmark," Murray said.
If a new contract isn't reached by June 30, Highmark subscribers will continue to receive care at Altoona Regional.
"If an agreement is not reached by then, the current contract terms remain the same for an additional six months, and Highmark members can continue to receive care at Altoona Regional under the same terms and conditions during this period," Murray said. "We have every confidence that a contract will be reached."
This contract has no effect on Highmark's Medicare managed care plan, Security Blue, Murray said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.