About to be sent to S.C., Pellicoro flees to Italy

Pasquale Pellicoro disappeared in 2007 and spent three years on the lam before being tracked down in Belfort, France.

Health insurer Cigna and Roper St. Francis Physician Partners have failed to negotiate a new contract, potentially stranding thousands of Charleston-area customers when the current contract expires at the end of the month, the parties said.

“We have offered to extend the contract expiration date to allow negotiations to continue,” Cigna spokeswoman Amy Turkington said in statement. “Unfortunately, that offer was not accepted.”

The negotiations do not affect a separate contract that covers hospital care, which is negotiated “under a separate agreement with Cigna that is not ending,” according to a statement from Roper St. Francis Healthcare CEO David Dunlap.

The negotiations failed because the parties could not agree to reimbursement rates Cigna would pay Roper. Cigna’s Turkington characterized Roper’s demands as a “substantial increase in the cost of physician services.”

“We have an obligation to protect the interests of our clients and customers and ensure that they have access to high-quality hospitals and doctors at a reasonable cost,” Turkington said in the statement. “An increase in the cost of physician services also means increased costs for consumers who pay deductibles, coinsurance and copays.”

Roper’s Dunlap said the system “must ensure that our physicians are reimbursed at fair levels” to “maintain the quality of service that our patients demand and have come to know with Roper St. Francis Healthcare.”

This is not the first time Cigna and Roper have battled over contracts. In the past, they eventually have managed to reach agreements following temporary contract extensions.

Local employers covered by Cigna are keeping an eye on the talks.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information concerning contracting provisions insurance companies use to get the lowest prices for medical services.