NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Retired Metro Nashville employees and first responders age 65 and older are at risk of losing access to the doctors they’ve been seeing for years.

In 2021, the Metro Council voted to move retired city employees to a new insurance company, Humana. This change came into effect on January 1 of this year.

But due to a dispute between Humana and Vanderbilt Medical Center, insurance for former firefighters, teachers and police officers will no longer be accepted at the hospital.

“These are people, people’s lives that you’re dealing with,” said Michael Underwood, a retired Nashville firefighter.

Underwood served for more than 30 years, retiring two years ago. She says it’s frustrating that they have no say in the insurance they get, and now, she may have to find new doctors in the midst of treating an antibiotic-resistant infection after surgery.

“If I decided to keep my Vanderbilt doctors, I would lose a considerable amount of money,” Underwood said. “To be completely shocked by the fact that you can no longer see doctors that you have a long-standing relationship with, that is unsettling.”

As of April 1, VUMC says it will no longer participate in Medicare Advantage plans offered by Humana and Wellcare of Tennessee. In a statement, VUMC said this change is necessary because health systems must be paid fairly for services as costs for personnel, equipment and medicines continue to rise.

Humana has said that they hope to keep VUMC as an in-network provider and hope to reach an agreement.

“Humana tried to negotiate, but the message we are getting from VUMC is that they are not willing to discuss a new rate that is less than a 20 percent increase,” a Humana spokesperson said in a statement to News 2.

Mayor John Cooper sent a letter to VUMC and Humana leaders urging them to continue working together until a solution can be found. On Tuesday, the Metro Council supported a resolution for both sides to work something out before April.

“Continuity of care is very important, and this is simply not happening to Metro employees,
this is happening to other people outside of Metro government who are covered by a Humana Advantage plan, we think it’s very important that they come back to the table and resolve this,” said Metro Councilmember Robert Nash.

According to a document obtained by News 2, the mayor’s office has met with representatives of the four major labor groups that represent Metro employees. Union leaders told the mayor that they will work together to keep members informed and push for a solution.

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VUMC has created a website and says patients can call (855) 429-2989 if they have any questions.