State Union Coalition Tells Hartford Healthcare: Stop Using Our Members As Pawns

Nov. 3, 2017 -- In response to the countless AFSCME (and other union) members and retirees caught up in a power struggle between Anthem and Hartford Healthcare, and who are facing loss of access to their doctors and mounting medical costs, the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition today sent a letter to Hartford Healthcare CEO Elliott Joseph.

In the letter to Hartford Healthcare CEO Eliot Joseph, SEBAC urges Harford Healthcare to stop using its patients -- and our members -- as pawns in a power grab to rake in even more profits and gain even more market share in the healthcare arena at the expense of patients and their families.

“Our members' disappointment in such an attitude from an organization whose mission it is to care for people and their families cannot be overstated,” the letter states. “Indeed, we doubt that many of Hartford Healthcare's dedicated doctors and health care professionals support this cavalier approach to their patients…Hartford Healthcare's patients are its life blood, and its moral responsibility.”

SEBAC leaders specifically questioned Hartford Healthcare's refusal of Anthem's offer to pay Hartford Healthcare reimbursements under the current rates, with a commitment to retroactively compensate HartfordHealthcare for any increase in the rates that is agreed to in the next contract.

Full SEBAC Letter to Hartford Healthcare:

November 2, 2017

Elliot Joseph, CEO
Hartford Healthcare
One State Street, Suite 19
Hartford, CT 06103

Dear Mr. Joseph:

On behalf of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, our 45,000 members, their families, and over 25,000 retirees and their families, we write to urge you to stop using our members, and the thousands of others who rely on your hospitals and providers, as leverage in your contract dispute with Anthem Insurance. We would not normally take sides in a battle between two large corporate entities, and might have resisted doing so, even though all of the publicly reported facts suggest that Hartford Healthcare's position in this contract dispute has been unreasonable. Those facts include Hartford Healthcare's receipt of increases compounding at over 65% in the last 7 years, and demanding increases over 6% per year in the upcoming agreement. And Hartford Healthcare's use of ever increasing amounts of healthcare dollars in what appears at least to be driven more by an attempt to gain market share and power than an effort to improve medical services for patients and communities. These are the kinds of issues that make healthcare less and less affordable and available for working families and the communities in which they live.

But we are particularly driven to write by the fact that Hartford Healthcare continues to refuse Anthem's public offer to remove patients from the fear and stress that comes from the current conflict by paying Hartford Healthcare reimbursements under the current reimbursement rates with a commitment to retroactively compensate Hartford Healthcare for any increase in the rates that is agreed to in the next contract. If Hartford Healthcare had accepted this offer, Anthem participants, including the many thousands of our members affected, could have continued to receive treatment from Hartford Healthcare providers while Hartford Healthcare and Anthem continued the negotiations necessary to work out their dispute. Instead, the fear and suffering of thousands of employees and their families has become Hartford Healthcare's unearned currency in its power struggle with Anthem. Our members' disappointment in such an attitude from an organization whose mission it is to care for people and their families cannot be overstated. Indeed, we doubt that many of Hartford Healthcare's dedicated doctors and health care professionals support this cavalier approach to their patients.

Enough in this case is well more than enough. We urge you to end this dispute immediately by accepting reasonable reimbursement increases in the new agreement. At the very least, and until that happens, we urge you to accept Anthem's offer to continue treating Anthem participants under the current rates with the promise of retroactivity once the new agreement is reached. Hartford Healthcare's patients are its life blood, and its moral responsibility. They should not be treated as pawns.

Very truly yours,

Daniel E. Livingston,
Chief Negotiator for SEBAC