CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Time is running out for Chesapeake Regional Medical Center and insurer Cigna Healthcare to come to a middle ground.

“It is our hope and expectation really we could not put patients or members in the middle,” Reese Jackson, president & CEO of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, told 10 On Your Side.

The insurance company’s contract expires on June 1.

“The contract ends in less than 10 business days. There is a holiday there too. We are more than open to work fast and furious not to put people in the middle, but it is incumbent on them to do the same,” Jackson said.

Cigna has had a contract with Chesapeake Regional for decades, but according to the health care system, the insurance company wants them to lower reimbursement rates.

“We are not meeting their financial needs, I suppose,” Jackson said.

Jackson says Cigna’s request is unsustainable.

“In terms of who has the money to spare, our nursing salaries are going up. Our cost of providing other medical services is going up. I don’t think they face the same challenges we face,” Jackson said.

He said Chesapeake Regional is being fair in the negotiation process.

“It is frustrating to me because Chesapeake Regional is being way more than reasonable,” Jackson said.

He said it should be up to patients to pick where they get care from.

“These corporate business decisions should never get in the way of providing local care. There are patients in this hospital right now that are Cigna members. They should not be affected. I think it’s not the right thing to do,” Jackson said.

For now, until the deadline, Jackson said they’ll work to come to an agreement.

“We are not part of the problem. We are part of the solution. We are here to advocate for them. We are doing that in our negotiations. We will continue to seek ways to remedy this,” he said.

Cigna Healthcare told 10 On Your Side they will continue negotiating as well.

In a statement the insurance company said,

“We want to keep health care affordable, especially as our clients and customers are managing rising prices due to inflation. Unfortunately, the majority of services that our customers access at Chesapeake General are more expensive than other local hospitals, and each year their rate increases have outpaced other area hospitals.  

We will continue negotiating and hope that they will do what is best for the community we both serve to reach a fair agreement before our contract ends June 1. If Chesapeake General refuses to agree to a reasonable, affordable contract, we will help our customers find other quality, in-network providers nearby.”  

Cigna Healthcare

If a deal can’t be reached, those with employee-sponsored insurance through Cigna would be out-of-network patients at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center. According to Cigna’s website, out-of-network care means “rates may be higher than the discounted in-network rate.”

Luckily if this happens, there would be protections for some patients.

“There are protections for consumers called the No Surprises Act. People that frequent our emergency room would be protected. Persons that are in an active course of treatment will be protected,” Jackson said.

Patients that could be impacted by the contract changes can contact Cigna’s customer service department at 1-800-997-1654 with any questions.

You can also reach out to your employer’s human resource or benefits department to find out more.