ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Time is ticking down for CDPHP and St. Peter’s Health Partners to sign and renew their network coverage and reimbursement contract and patients are getting worried.

An anonymous viewer sharing with NEWS10 a letter they received in the mail reportedly sent to all St. Peter’s patients across the Capital Region that have CDPHP insurance. The letter telling them to “ask your HR/Benefits Manager or plan administrator about whether they offer an alternative health plan that includes St. Peter’s Health Partners in its network.”

A letter submitted to NEWS10 by an anonymous viewer. The letter explains the ongoing contract dispute between St. Peter’s Health Partners and CDPHP and advises recipients to inquire about “an alternative health plan”. (Anonymous; Friday, November 4, 2022)

CDPHP Spokesperson Ali Skinner calls this a targeted tactic in the middle of insurance open enrollment.

“CDPHP is vulnerable, so they’re taking this as an opportunity to really negotiate with us, which is—it’s very unfortunate because it’s getting patients and our members very concerned,” Skinner says.

She says since the letters went out, CDPHP has gotten more than 1,500 concerned calls and hundreds of upset comments on social media. NEWS10 is further aware of a similar letter sent to CDPHP providers acknowledging the dispute, while making the claim SPHP parent company, Trinity Health, is attempting to make up for company losses by passing financial burden to Capital Region residents.

A St. Peter’s representative claims in a statement to NEWS10 the health system is “deeply disappointed that CDPHP is misrepresenting the facts of the situation. St. Peter’s Health Partners is simply asking for reimbursement that reflects today’s reality in the cost of delivering care to the residents of the Capital Region.”

However, Skinner replies even post COVID, the rate hike St. Peter’s and Trinity Health are asking for is unreasonable to CDPHP.

“Nineteen percent at the same time medical inflation is running at about six and a half percent. So we really need to make healthcare affordable and we know that folks are having a really hard time right now,” Skinner says.

When asked to verify the rate change request, the St. Peter’s spokesperson turned down sharing specific details, but added in a new statement:

In negotiating this new contract, we are asking CDPHP to acknowledge the unprecedented medical delivery cost increases we – along with health care providers all around the country – have faced since the COVID pandemic began nearly three years ago. Accepting rates that do not address these increases would jeopardize our ability to provide the high-quality care our patients and Capital Region residents have depended on from us for more than 150 years. We will continue to work with CDPHP to come to a resolution that best serves our local residents.

St. Peter’s Health Partners Spokesperson

The original statement from St. Peter’s further adds negotiations will continue right up to the December 31 deadline, to “allow patients to continue to receive the care they know and trust.”

Skinner also says even if what she calls “routine negotiations” do fail, there’s something called a “cooling off period” that New York State law guarantees so patients have more time to get treatment.

“Which allows you to continue seeing your provider all the way through the end of February, but then anybody who is in an ongoing course of treatment or is pregnant can continue to see their same provider through April 1 as well,” she explains.