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Five reps from the Bronx vs. the largest health organizations in New York. Photo: Getty Images 
Five reps from the Bronx vs. the largest health organizations in New York. Photo: Getty Images 

Bronx Reps. Torres, AOC, Espaillat and more fight against corporate greed in health coverage

In a fight against corporate greed, representatives from the Bronx are fighting for the health coverage of 60,000 New Yorkers.

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Losing healthcare in a pandemic is the last thing anyone would one to go through at this time, but it’s what’s happened to around 60,000 New Yorkers in The Bronx, who fell victim to a contract dispute by two major health orgs in the area.

Reps. Ritchie Torres (NY-15) Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) were joined by neighboring reps Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), and Mondaire Jones (NY-03) in calling on United Healthcare and Montefiore Health to restore the health coverage of thousands during the global health crisis, pushing the agencies to resolve a commercial agreement.

Montefiore is the largest employer of essential workers in the Bronx. 

The insurer and healthcare system had a dispute over the terms of a commercial contract, reported POLITICO, which jeopardized three contracts that represent 60,000 patients. Montefiore has refused to sign all three contracts unless its terms are met, as it seeks a 30% increase in payments from UnitedHealthcare for its commercial patients, spanning a three-year deal.

UnitedHealthcare refused, queuing the debate and ensuing loss of coverage.  

“In the middle of a pandemic, tens of thousands of Bronxites have been left without access to their in-network doctors and hospitals. United Healthcare and Montefiore Health system must return to the negotiating table and resolve this contract dispute immediately,” wrote Rep. AOC.

Rep. Torres has been fighting the crisis for weeks. On Dec. 30, he held a presser in front of Montefiore Urgent Care to advocate for his constituents’ health coverage, at a time when UnitedHealthcare’s threats had not yet become reality.

At the time, Torres urged UnitedHealth to “put people over profits,” and to negotiate a fair contract. “Now is not the time for profiteering,” he added, urging both to action.

On Jan.22, Rep Espaillat joined Torres’ calls.

“We are calling on @uHC and @MontefioreNYC to negotiate for the sake of 60K residents counting on you to do the right thing,” he wrote on Twitter.

The widespread advocacy resulted in a show of unity from The Bronx Congressional Delegation on the issue. From Torres and AOC, to Espaillat, Bowman, and Mondaire Jones vocally calling for an agreement to be reached for their constituents. 

“The Bronx Congressional Delegation… are calling on @UHC and @MontefioreNYC to return to the negotiating table and restore health care for the 60K New Yorkers who have seen their care disrupted by corporate greed,” Torres continued on Twitter.

According to POLITICO, patients with United Healthcare’s Medicare dual-eligible special needs community plans will have in-network access to Montefiore hospitals through March.

However, plans like UnitedHealthCare’s Medicaid community plans, andOxford fully insured commercial plans, only have in-network access until midnight on March 1. 

The nation is in a pandemic. Access to quality and affordable health care is a vital need during this time, and Montefiore health system is a major health provider in the New York area. 

Before COVID-19, some areas — specifically the Bronx’s Community Board 5— had a poverty rate of 35%, with heightened risk for health complications, reported Bronx Times

The back-and-forths of the contract dispute exhibit a willingness to compromise the health of thousands for the sake of corporate greed. 

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