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Lovelace Declares Victory In Fight

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Lovelace Health Plan is declaring victory in its battle with ABQ Health Partners over customers, a declaration the medical practice says is premature.

Lovelace said 94 percent of the 58,000 plan members who had to choose between the plan and the medical providers at ABQ Health Partners have chosen to remain with Lovelace.

“We are very pleased that such a high percentage of our members have chosen to stay with LHP,” said Ron Stern, president and CEO of Lovelace Health System, the plan’s parent company. “We deeply appreciate their loyalty through this transition.”

However, ABQ Health Partners, the state’s largest independent medical practice, said that until Medicare Advantage open enrollment ends Dec. 7 it is too soon to say how many patients will get care from other medical groups.

“Any numbers that Lovelace is releasing on member retention are premature until after enrollment closes,” the practice said Thursday in a statement. “ABQ Health Partners remains committed to giving patients the information they need to make informed decisions about their health care.”

ABQ Health Partners had a contract to provide care to Lovelace insurance customers that expired Nov. 8, forcing patients, among them members of Lovelace’s Medicare Advantage plans, to decide if they wanted to change insurance companies and remain with their ABQ HP physicians or change physicians and remain with Lovelace.

The practice said it is concerned that Lovelace does not have enough practitioners to care for plan members. “As one of the largest multi-specialty medical groups in the Southwest, ABQ Health Partners physicians provide approximately 400,000 appointments to current Lovelace Health Plan members on an annual basis,” according to the statement.

Lovelace said ABQ Health Partners accounts for only 2 percent of its provider network and that new providers have been found for virtually all plan members.

The practice had claimed more than 100,000 Lovelace plan members were affected by the contract fight. Lovelace had contended that number was too high but did not provide its own data until this week.

Attorney General Gary King attempted to intervene by asking federal regulators to extend the Medicare Advantage enrollment deadline. They declined to do so.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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