Provider Perspective

March 25, 2024

Interview with Dr. Cory Donovan 

Surgical Oncologist 

Cory Donovan As a provider and health care advocate in this community, what are your concerns about the ongoing negotiations between Legacy Health and Regence?  
As a provider, I am so concerned about how this is going to impact my patients. Many of my patients have breast cancer and adding the stress of this uncertainty associated with this dispute is one more thing they can’t handle.  
It feels so unfair to have to have these conversations with our patients. It’s unfair that they are having to face this uncertainty when they are facing one of the scariest things in their lives. The additional paperwork, the hoops they need to jump through to get the care they need is too much.  
I’m also worried about patients who haven’t gotten a diagnosis yet. Where are they going to find the support they need and why are they going to have to take the lead on this?  
I saw a patient recently and before I could go see her, I had to call our manager because she has BlueCross insurance. I wasn’t sure if they were going to consider her diagnosis life threatening in their continuity of care. There is a great deal of uncertainty whether she can continue care with me. I’m required to have that conversation instead of spending time talking about how to keep her safe. I’m spending the precious time we have together addressing the elephant in the room, which is whether I can continue to care for her. It feels like a crisis and one we shouldn’t be having to go through.  
What concerns do you have for our patients who are caught in the middle of these negotiations? 

I’m concerned about the added anxiety. Imagine being diagnosed with precancer and not knowing who or when it’s going to be taken care of. Imagine having cancer and getting a letter saying that you need to find a new provider and healthcare system. Why is it that patients are going to have to bear this burden when they are already dealing with so much else? It’s hard enough to get up out of bed, put on your shoes and brush your hair when you have cancer.  
If an agreement is not reached, how will this affect Legacy patients who are Regence members? How will it impact you as a provider? 
We’re going to be spending a lot of time not on direct patient care but on coordinating and ensuring patients get the care they need. We at Legacy will not leave them alone to figure this out by themselves. We’ll stand with them. Do not underestimate the amount of anxiety it’s going to cause patients and our teams. It’s profoundly disruptive to them. I worry that it will fracture the trust within the medical system. We already struggle with so much distrust. The patient, provider relationships are already fragile.  
What are you telling patients who have questions about this situation? 
I’m telling them that we are going to continue to help them through this journey. I’m hopeful that Legacy and Regence can figure this out. We’re motivated by giving the best care that we can. We’re going to focus on that and make that happen for our patients.  
How are contract disputes like this impacting health care throughout this country? 
I feel like it’s significant if what we’re experiencing here is being repeated at health systems and insurance companies across the country. It means a huge number of resources are being spent on nonpatient care and that hurts the system as a whole. Imagine this level of disruption on a national level. I worry about smaller, not-for-profit systems that don’t have same kind of negotiating power that for-profit corporate entities do. Are we carrying the brunt because we don’t have same economic power on a national scale? Are they using us to make an example for small healthcare companies?  
If you could tell the head of Regence one thing, what would it be? 
Please don’t use my patients as pawns in your negotiations. Please stay at the negotiating table and figure this out for the health of patients in the Portland and Vancouver area. They need Legacy to provide the exceptional care we can deliver. 
What would you ask of Regence as the date of termination draws closer?  
I understand the economics have changed and I understand how uncertain healthcare delivery feels. I know that this is hard and what we’re asking is hard. But I also need them to recognize that their actions have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of people facing life threatening and scary conditions. Please allow us to focus on delivering care to our patients. 

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