- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Thousands of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska customers soon will have the chance to see CHI Health doctors again without financial penalty after the two sides signed an agreement to work together again through June 2017.

The two parties signed paperwork Thursday to restart their partnership beginning July 15, the Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/1dkC19b ) reported. CHI Health’s CEO, Dr. Cliff Robertson, said the new contract is fair to both sides.

“Both sides made concessions so we could reach agreement to bring this situation to an end,” Robertson said. The amounts of concessions weren’t provided by either side.

Blue Cross’s chief financial officer, Jerry Byers, said that no agreement would have been reached if CHI Health hadn’t brought its rates down.

“We needed cost reductions of a certain amount to have them rejoin our network,” Byers said. “We feel the reductions we were able to achieve were worth the disruption our members went through in the last 10 months.”

Blue Cross removed CHI Health from its network after saying that CHI’s prices were too high and needed to be decreased to the levels of Methodist Health System and Nebraska Medicine. The dispute had hurt all parties involved - CHI Health lost patients, Blue Cross lost customers and some patients lost doctors they had seen for years.

The CHI Nebraska division’s earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization in the last quarter of 2014 totaled $13.3 million, which was down from the same quarter of the previous year. Blue Cross lost clients such as the Omaha Westside school district and Airlite Plastics.

CHI Health will remain out of network for an estimated 38,000 Select Blue policyholders, but it will be in network for around 570,000 Network Blue policyholders, according to Byers.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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