CHICO — Enloe Medical Center and medical insurance provider Anthem Blue Cross were not able to negotiate new contracts as of Nov. 1.That means residents who have commercial coverage are impacted, but not those with MediCal or MediCare coverage. Emergency room coverage is intact as well. Physicians within the insurance network will be impacted as well.For those patients with Anthem Blue Cross insurance, they may face higher costs for services or need to find medical care at a different facility out of town. It all depends on what kind of policy they carry, according to Enloe CEO Mike Wiltermood. Enloe is now out of the network, he said.

Wiltermood said Enloe started negotiating with Anthem Blue Cross in May, hopeful that a better contract could be reached. He said Enloe believes that physicians here weren’t being paid on parity with others.

“Anthem hasn’t given a contract increase in nine of the last 12 years” to physicians, he said Friday.

Wiltermood said Anthem wasn’t interested in offering a different contract, either not showing up prepared to negotiate or offering the same contract as has been in place for a number of years.

Wiltermood said Anthem “ … was telling enrollees that they were negotiating in earnest. That wasn’t the case.”

“It was basically take it or leave it,” Wiltermood said.

He said the last time the two sides met, Oct. 30, Anthem offered “less than the current contract.”

Enloe also received a letter from CalPERS, encouraging the hospital to find common ground for a new contract. Wiltermood said the letter was “bullying.”

Wiltermood said he wondered if CalPERS sent Anthem the same letter.

While a comment from Anthem indicated the insurer would be happy to bring Enloe back into the network, Wiltermood said there were so many occasions to do that that didn’t happen.

“We’ve been told that Anthem is not going to budge off the original agreement.”

Wiltermood acknowledged the situation can hurt Enloe in the short term.

“We’ll have to see if people migrate to other commercial plans. In the short run, there will be an impact and we understand that. A lot of this just depends on how people react. If it’s important (to them) to stay local, they’ll go to another insurance plan.”

Wiltermood said he had talks with Butte County school districts and others that could deal directly with Enloe, and would entertain other groups that might be interested in that.

Finally, enrollees can find a toll-free phone number on the back of their medical cards, and can call with their questions.

Anthem representative Eric Lail sent this statement to the Enterprise-Record:

“Our priority during these ongoing negotiations with Enloe Medical Center continues to be protecting affordability for our consumers, while providing access to quality healthcare. We are negotiating in good faith to bring Enloe back into our network of care providers as soon as possible. In the meantime, consumers can access care at one of the many providers in the area who remain in our broad network.

“We do believe hospitals and doctors should be compensated fairly, and that has been reflected in our offers to Enloe. However, we cannot agree to rates that are not in line with what similar providers in the area receive. Those higher costs would be paid for by our consumers, many of whom are covered by self-funded plans and pay for their medical services directly.”

According to Enloe, “Anthem Blue Cross has indicated that many of its members may be able to continue their pre-authorized care plan at Enloe if they have pre-authorized surgeries or other procedures, if they are scheduled before the termination date and within 180 days after the contract terminates.

Anthem Blue Cross has said its members may also be eligible to continue their care or complete covered services for an acute condition, terminal illness, serious chronic condition, care of a child (age 0-36 months) or pregnancy, Enloe indicated.