*This story has been updated with a statement from Tivity Health
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has dropped Franklin-based Tivity Health’s SilverSneakers program for an Indiana-based competitor.
The announcement comes less than a month after Tennessee YMCAs also dropped the program, citing disagreements with Tivity about payment. The decision would have affected almost 200,000 BCBS members.
“We’re pleased to work with Silver&Fit, and we’re happy that our members are not impacted by the loss of the YMCAs. Our [almost] 198,000 members enrolled in senior care programs (Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and the Dual-eligible Special Needs Plan which serves those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid) will continue to have access to the facilities of their choice after Dec. 31,” a BlueCross BlueShield spokesperson told the Post.
Silver&Fit, a program offered by American Specialty Health, will take SilverSneakers' place in providing gym membership programs for seniors for the insurance payer.
In an op-ed for the Williamson Herald, Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs Executive Director Ted Cornelius said Tivity has done very little to work with partners on the program. In fact, he said the abandonment of SilverSneakers is a national trend: YMCAs from all over the country (Seattle, Tacoma, Pittsburgh, Dallas, etc.) have also dropped the program. The Post was unable to determine at publishing time whether other BCBS divisions are planning such moves.
Steve Janicak, President of Tivity's Healthcare Business Unit said in a statement Thursday afternoon:
We’re disappointed by BlueCross BlueShield Tennessee’s decision to terminate their SilverSneakers agreement. We have been collaborative partners for many years and have communicated frequently over the past few months about our negotiations with the TN YMCA.
We negotiated in good faith with the Tennessee YMCAs. Ending SilverSneakers at Tennessee YMCAs was their decision, not ours. Since 2015, SilverSneakers has paid Tennessee YMCAs more than $30 million, as well as making more than $500,000 in administrative payments and nearly $50,000 in charitable contributions. We worked in good faith to meet the financial demands of the Tennessee Ys. In 2019, several of them received a 16%-24% increase in fees. Other Ys in the state that didn’t receive a 2019 fee increase were offered rate increases as part of our latest discussions. The Tennessee Ys determined that offer wasn’t acceptable, and recently confirmed they’re still terminating their agreements with us effective at the end of this year. We couldn’t accept demands to increase our fees higher still, in some instances, by 140%.
Contrary to previous statements, there is no national trend of YMCA’s leaving our network. In fact, we have strong relationships with 1,500 YMCA locations across the country, including 61 locations that were added to our network in the past year.
We look forward to continuing to serve SilverSneakers members at our 350 other participating locations across the state of Tennessee in 2020.
The SilverSneakers program generated about $246 million for Tivity in the first half of 2019. It’s the most important part of the company’s health care division, making up more than 40 percent of its revenue during the first six months of the year.