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

In 2021, Metro Council voted to move retired city employees to a new insurance carrier, Humana. This switch went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year.

But because of a dispute between Humana and Vanderbilt Medical Center, former firefighters, civil servants and police officers’ insurance will no longer be accepted at the hospital.

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

Underwood served for more than 30 years and retired two years ago. He said it is frustrating they have no say in what insurance they get, and now, he may be left searching for new doctors in the middle of treatment for an antibiotic-resistant infection after surgery.

“If I decided to keep my Vanderbilt doctors then I would be out considerable amount of money,” Underwood said. “To be completely blindsided by the fact that you can no longer see the doctors you have a long-time relationship with, that’s 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 medications continue to rise.

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

“Humana has attempted to negotiate – but the message we have received from VUMC is that they are unwilling to discuss a new rate that is anything less than a 20 percent increase,” said a Humana spokesperson in a statement to News 2.

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

“Continuity of care is so important, and this is just not happening to Metro employee,
this is happening to other people outside Metro government who are covered by a Humana Advantage plan, we think it’s very important they get back to the table and work this out,” said Metro Councilman Robert Nash.

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

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