A Minnesota-based business dispute involving Children’s Hospital and Blue Cross Blue Shield made national headlines recently when the two parties could not resolve contract issues. Thankfully, the two sides reached an agreement and recently signed a new contract. A more comprehensive reporting on the dispute can be found in this Star Tribune article.
In this blog post, however, we want to discuss some key items that other business owners can take away from the bitter dispute in an effort to avoid similar issues.
- Changes in state and federal laws can affect business contracts. When legislative changes have a financial and systemic effect on parties to a business contract, renegotiation and compliance can be more problematic. Prepare for these situations by consulting a legal representative to discuss possible clauses to include in a contract from the beginning that address renegotiation and exceptions.
- Taking deadlines seriously is crucial. In this case, the parties failed to negotiate an agreement by the established deadline. While an agreement was reached shortly thereafter, the delay exacerbated and sensationalized the dispute Avoid similar complications by working diligently to meet all contractual deadlines.
- Disputes can and do affect customers. In this case, the dispute jeopardized access to in-network care at Children’s for thousands of patients. Families were faced with the possibility of either having to find new providers for sick children or paying significantly more money for the same care. This is an important reminder that contract disputes don’t just affect the parties involved in the dispute; they affect customers, partners, residents and families, as well.
It is easy to be singularly focused when it comes to contract disputes. However, various elements — like adjusting to legislative changes, meeting deadlines and protecting other parties — should also be taken into account, as they can affect the resolution. Failing to recognize these and other elements can prevent you from securing a fair, effective and timely resolution.