The end of the year is just around the corner, and the stalemate between Anthem and Valley Health is, regrettably, still unresolved. Despite the careful PR spin and consistent messaging coming from Valley Health, I remain unconvinced that Anthem is the problem in this stalemate.
Valley Health wants us to believe Anthem is unfair; that Valley Health is under-compensated by the health insurance company, and that this is the root of the stalemate. I find this hard to believe when the Valley Health Fitness Center recently announced to its members that it is spending $2.8 million to expand and renovate the gym. It’s already the best gym in the area; it’s more than adequate and exceeds all my expectations.
We don’t need a brand-new, 6,200 square-foot functional training space — there is already more than enough workout space and plenty of equipment of every imaginable type. We don’t need to completely remodel all men’s and women’s locker rooms — they’re excellent as they are; the best I’ve ever seen in a gym. And we definitely don’t need to remodel the entryway vestibule by bumping it out six extra feet and adding automatic sliding doors — the current doors are beautiful and already open automatically.
Valley Health refuses to budge in its negotiations with Anthem to protect the insurance benefits of so many in Winchester, and yet it’s happy to spend $2.8 million on unnecessary fitness center renovations? Obviously, Valley Health is not hurting for money, despite its efforts to “fight” for payments that are up to current standards of living (the reason it gives for not resolving its conflict with Anthem). If its staff is suffering under unfair compensation from Anthem, why not invest that $2.8 million in its own people? I am more than happy to continue enjoying the excellent fitness center facilities as they are. We don’t NEED these changes. Valley Health has revealed the truth about these negotiations: it doesn’t care if patients lose their Anthem health insurance plans if it means more cash lining its own pockets. I would much rather keep my Anthem health insurance than add six more feet to the fitness center vestibule, and I would’ve gladly told Valley Health this, had they cared enough about the people its serves to ask us directly.
Valley Health is trying to make it look like it is the victim in this dispute, but the real victims are the patients who are going to lose their Anthem coverage because of the greed of Valley Health administrators. If Valley Health wanted us to buy its PR spin, it shouldn’t have approved a huge remodeling budget before this conflict was resolved. Now the truth is staring us in the face: this conflict could be quickly resolved if Valley Health would yield to Anthem and put its patients’ needs first.
Elisabeth Townsend is a Winchester resident.