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This file photo shows CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga.

UnitedHealthcare's approximately 5,000 customers in the metro Chattanooga area will again be able to use CHI Memorial hospital's facilities after the insurer and health care provider resolved a contract dispute.

The contract between the two expired Oct. 31 after UnitedHealthcare and CHI Memorial were unable to agree on how much the insurance company would reimburse the hospital for caring for its members.

CHI Memorial had argued that the insurer was not covering its costs and had failed to provide any increase in payments to its doctors for eight years.

UnitedHealthcare countered that CHI Memorial was asking for fees that were too high and would drive up the cost of health insurance.

"This new agreement sets the stage for a cooperative relationship that allows both parties to explore ways to incorporate new models of care in the future," CHI Memorial CEO Larry Schumacher said in a statement issued Monday afternoon. "We feel the new contract reimburses CHI Memorial fairly for the services we provide to UnitedHealthcare members and recognizes the value CHI Memorial brings to people in Southeast Tennessee."

The new agreement covers CHI Memorial Hospital, CHI Memorial Hospital Hixson, CHI Memorial Ooltewah Imaging Center, CHI Memorial Medical Group physicians, The Chattanooga Heart Institute physicians, EMS, CHI Memorial Health at Home, the Rees Skillern Cancer Institute, and the MaryEllen Locher Breast Center.

According to the statement, the agreement is effective immediately and is retroactive to Nov. 1, 2016.

However, CHI Memorial's participation in United- Healthcare's Medicare Advantage network will extend only through Dec. 31, 2016.

UnitedHealthcare is the nation's largest health insurance company.

Contact staff writer Steve Johnson at 423-757-6673, sjohnson@timesfreepress.com, on Twitter @stevejohnsonTFP, and on Facebook, www.face book.com/noogahealth.

This story was updated Nov. 21 at 10:30 p.m.

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