By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Children’s Minnesota and Blue Cross Blue Shield reached a deal Friday to keep patients in-network.

The contract expired Wednesday when the sides couldn’t reach an agreement after months of negotiations.

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Attorney General Lori Swanson then brought the CEOs together for a series of meetings. Early Friday afternoon, the parties announced they struck a three-year deal. What this means is patients covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota who are treated at Children’s can continue to be seen there.

Blue Cross CEO Mike Guyette and Children’s Minnesota CEO Bob Banar found common ground to reach a deal that affected tens of thousands.

“Where we landed was a fair and equitable contract and both entities are pleased,” Banar said.

They said during the lapse of coverage, Children’s still accepted Blue Cross; patient care there was not affected.

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“We worked very closely with the Children’s clinical team to make sure all children were getting the care that they needed and continued to receive the services,” Guyette said.

Swanson asked the CEOs to meet after hearing firsthand the concerns of families. She called the deal doing it “the Minnesota way.”

“It’s refreshing to see the level of commitment and focus they brought to bear in terms of making sure the children and the parents were represented,” Swanson said.

Neither side would disclose details of the agreement. The hospital had claimed Blue Cross presented an impossible deal that meant it would have to accept double-digit reductions to Medicaid rates. The insurance company said it tried to work with the hospital by putting forth alternative offers the hospital kept getting turning down.

In the end, Guyette said, “What we want to focus on is affordability and accessible care for people going forward and the only way that’s going to happen is if we work together.”

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“Children’s Hospital has a responsibility to our community to provide good health care with great outcomes in a cost-efficient manner, and that’s what we’ve committed to our Blue Cross partners to do,” Bonar said.

Jennifer Mayerle