Employees with the Capital Region's largest health care provider will no longer be covered by the area’s largest health insurer at year's end.
Effective December 31st, employees of St. Peter's Health Partners will see their benefits moved to another carrier. Ali Skinner is spokesperson for Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, or CDPHP: "Unfortunately this is the sad reality of provider and physician consolidation. Trinity Health, in Livonia, Michigan, owns St. Peter's Health Partners and they've made a decision to basically outsource their health benefits to their employees to a Michigan-based insurer."
Skinner says the change should be regarded as a business decision. "You know, I think it remains to be seen what type of — the quality of health benefits that come out of this again for these people. What I can tell you is that a number of employees are upset. We've heard from a number of their employees and our members, CDPHP, as most people in the Capital Region know, one of the top-rated health plans, not only in New York state but in the country, so we're sad to see them go because we know that they were really getting the best of the best with CDPHP."
In June, CDPHP announced it was expanding to the northern New York. The carrier was welcomed by North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas. “All employers of all kinds are having increasing challenges in retaining and recruiting talent. And one of the things that somebody will leave an employer for, even more than a couple dollars an hour, is a better health insurance plan."
Skinner says the situation with St. Peter's did not factor into CDPHP's move north. "We decided to move to the North Country because we saw opportunity up there."
Trinity Health declined to comment, referring a request to St. Peter's. A spokesperson for the hospital sent back an email that says, in part: "we were not able to reach the people we need to speak with for a comment or statement on this topic."
While the future may be uncertain for St. Peter's employees, it is far from bleak: when Trinity Health and Catholic Health East merged in 2013, the new system became the second-largest not-for-profit health system in the country. In January, Trinity Health joined two other systems to develop a not-for-profit generic drug company.
CDPHP's Skinner throws up the red flag when it comes to hospital consolidations. "Time after time, we hear that hospital and physician consolidation is going to lead to improved efficiencies, lower costs, increased quality of care, and unfortunately the data is not supporting that. So we would love to see these hospital mergers turn into better care for our customers and the community, and that's just not happening."
According to Becker's Hospital Review, Trinity Health operates more than 70 hospitals in 22 states and maintains annual operating revenues of $17.6 billion, while dispersing about $1.1 billion annually to improve health and wellness in communities surrounding its facilities.