Lehigh Valley, Aetna strike deal

Nov. 17—Lehigh Valley Health Network announced Thursday afternoon that it has reached an agreement, effective immediately, that allows Aetna Commercial and Medicare members to remain in network at LVHN.

"Our top priority as we worked toward reaching an agreement remained our patients and members," a "joint agreement" statement sent by Lehigh Valley reads. "The relationship between LVHN and Aetna is longstanding. We will continue to work together to serve our patients and members, and to deliver on our shared goal of improving health outcomes in our community."

Last week, Lehigh Valley had announced it would stop accepting Aetna insurance next year, a move that could have led to higher out-of-pocket costs for thousands of patients suddenly out of network with their doctors, the Morning Call reported in citing a source familiar with the announcement.

The health network sent a letter Nov. 10 to area employers informing them of the decision to no longer accept Aetna plans as of March 13. LVHN accused the health insurance giant of refusing to pay for health care provided to Aetna members as well as routinely denying or delaying care for patients over the last five years. It said the network had tried to resolve these issues since 2017.

Alex Kepnes, spokesperson for Aetna, said at the time that the insurer planned to continue negotiations with LVHN.