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A patient is treated in an emergency room. Photo: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images

Health insurer UnitedHealthcare has mailed a notice to 300 hospital systems that use Envision Healthcare for physician staffing, warning them that Envision providers likely will not be part of UnitedHealthcare's network starting next year.

The bottom line: UnitedHealthcare said in April that it was prepared to terminate its contract with Envision, a company that has since been bought out by private equity firm KKR in a $10 billion deal. Negotiations have been fruitless, and patients who have UnitedHealthcare insurance and who are treated by Envision doctors now likely will face large, unexpected medical bills.

The details: Envision said it was still working with UnitedHealthcare to hammer out a deal before the start of the new year. Envision also called UnitedHealthcare's letters to hospitals "aggressive" and said they were "filled with half-truths and inaccuracies" and "designed to fit their narrative rather than the reality."

Dan Rosenthal, president of UnitedHealthcare's provider networks, wrote to hospitals that UnitedHealthcare believes it "offered Envision competitive rates," but now those facilities will be caught in the crossfire.

  • "In the event patients receive services from an Envision provider, you may experience a decrease in patient satisfaction driven from higher out-of-pocket costs and patient confusion," according to the letter.
  • UnitedHealthcare said it would "advocate" for patients who get surprise bills from Envision to get the amount waived or reduced. But it won't stop patients from getting the unexpected statements in the first place.

Go deeper: Why there's no surprise hospital bill backlash — yet

Go deeper

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

2 hours ago - World

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.