Family Practice Associates of Lexington dropping Aetna

Family Practice Associates of Lexington, a multi-physician practice that serves more than 50,000 patients, is severing its relationship with Aetna insurance.

FPA sent letters this week to about 1,000 patients identified in its system as current Aetna participants telling them that as of Aug. 31, the practice will not longer accept Aetna.

Whether all those patients still carry Aetna policies is not known, according to Craig Gillispie, FPA’s administrator.

“I’m hopeful that Aetna would contact us back at some point” before Aetna patients have to leave the practice, Gillispie said. “We struggled with this decision. It’s a hard decision to make.”

Patients carrying Medicare Advantage and Medicare HMO would both be affected, Gillispie said. Patients who have traditional Medicare as their primary coverage but have Aetna supplemental insurance to cover what Medicare doesn’t pay would still be able to use FPA.

Aetna spokesman Rohan Hutchings said in an e-mail that Aetna was attempting “to maximize value and reduce costs” in its contract with FPA and “has been in active discussions with FPA in the hope we can negotiate a contract that provides affordable access for members of Aetna plans.”

“It is possible that we will reach contract agreements with Family Practice Associates before Aug. 31 or even after the termination,” Hutchings said.

FPA, which has its headquarters in Hamburg on Alysheba Way, recently opened a second location on Harrodsburg Road. The practice has 10 physicians and four nurse practitioners.

Aetna is in the midst of a $34 billion merger with Humana, which the companies said will make a healthcare giant with the ability “to transform healthcare delivery to a more consumer-focused marketplace.”

The merger is now being scrutinized by the remaining states in which both companies operate. As of May 25, the merger had received approval in 15 out of the necessary 20 states; only Missouri had demanded that the companies submit a plan to remedy the anticompetitive impact of the merger.

The U.S. Justice Department will have the final say about the merger, which was announced in 2015.

Another major health insurance merger, a $54 billion deal between Anthem and Cigna, is also pending.

On Wednesday, an online list of general practice and family practice physicians available to an Aetna insurance plan customer showed only a handful of remaining choices in Lexington without Family Practice Associates. Hutchings said in his e-mail that Aetna members “will still have plenty of choices with nearly 638 PCPs in Aetna’s network in the Bluegrass.”

In 2010, Lexington Clinic, a multi-specialty practice that also offers family medicine, dropped its Aetna patients. Aetna said then that ambulatory surgery rates were at the heart of the dispute.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman