A dispute between St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and Regence BlueShield of Idaho has been settled.

The Lewiston hospital is once again a part of the Regence network as part of a three-year contract that was announced Wednesday in separate news releases issued by both parties.

The deal is retroactive to Jan. 15, when a previous contract expired that governed how much St. Joe’s charged Regence for the care its customers received at the hospital or from professionals on its staff.

That means Regence customers who were treated at St. Joe’s after the agreement lapsed will be reimbursed at in-network rates.

It covers employer-sponsored commercial insurance plans and Regence Medicare Advantage plans.

“This is a win for our patients who deserve access to quality health care here at home, and we appreciate their patience as we have worked through this process,” said St. Joe’s Spokeswoman Samantha “Sam” Skinner in a news release.

Regence had a similar take.

“This agreement preserves our members’ interests for quality, affordable and local health care, solidifying a relationship between our organizations that dates back to 1946,” said Jared Ishkanian, a Regence spokesman from Oregon, in a news release.

Neither party offered details about the compromise. Previously, Regence had indicated that LifePoint Health in Tennessee, the owner of St. Joe’s, wanted what amounted to a 40 percent increase over three years.

Regence BlueShield of Idaho executives, including President Sean Robbins, had planned to visit LifePoint’s headquarters in Tennessee this week for talks.

Many had been watching what happened closely.

Regence insures more than 15,000 people in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington. St. Joe’s plays an important role as the region’s largest hospital.

It wasn’t clear what would have happened had the hospital and insurance provider not resolved their differences.

Regence was advising its customers to deliver babies, receive chemotherapy and obtain other nonemergency care at hospitals that had remained in its network.

The insurance provider had agreed to provide in-network benefits for emergency care. But St. Joe’s hadn’t indicated if it was going to balance bill patients for the difference between its costs for treating patients and what Regence allowed for certain procedures.

Elaine Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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