A man rides his bike in front of the Brentwood YMCA. / File photo
By MATT BLOIS
YMCAs in Tennessee are dropping out of a Franklin health care company’s gym membership program for seniors.
Starting next year, seniors participating in Franklin-based Tivity Health’s SilverSneakers program won’t be able to use YMCAs in Tennessee. SilverSneakers members can still use more than 350 other gym locations across the state.
Seniors in Williamson County will still be able to use Williamson County Recreation Centers and Franklin Athletic Club, among other locations, through the program.
Members of some Medicare Advantage plans can sign up for the SilverSneakers program. Tivity partners with a large network of gyms, and SilverSneakers participants can use those gyms. They also offer exercise classes at those gyms.
According to Tivity, about 10,000 seniors in Tennessee would lose access to the YMCA starting in 2020. In Middle Tennessee, a YMCA membership costs between $59 and $78 per month.
The Tennessean reported on Tuesday that all YMCAs in Tennessee are dropping out of the program because of disagreements with Tivtity about payment.
In a statement, the Tennessee Alliance of YMCAs said YMCAs have been struggling to find ways to make the SilverSneakers program work under the current business model.
The YMCAs have been negotiating with Tivity for the last several months, but weren’t able to come to an agreement. The organization didn’t respond to any questions about the decision to pull out of the SilverSneakers program.
Tivity sells the SilverSneaker program to Medicare Advantage plans. Tivity pays partner gyms based on the number of SilverSneaker members who go there.
Tivity’s division president for health care Steve Janicak said the YMCA was asking for a big rate increase.
“What they were asking for was not feasible for us. It was not a price we could make work from our side,” he said.
He added that the company also paid administrative payments and charitable donations to the YMCA on top of fees for SilverSneakers members.
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. The program made up more 40% of the company’s revenue during the first six months of the year.
The SilverSneakers fitness network includes 16,000 locations. The 44 YMCA locations in Tennessee will no longer be a part of that network.
The are about 16 million people who can use the SilverSneakers program. Janicak said the company couldn’t say how many of those users are active.