(Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

Salem Health and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon reached a contract agreement, meaning more than 23,000 Marion and Polk county residents can continue to get care at local hospitals without paying more out-of-pocket.

The deal, announced this week, comes after over a year of sometimes contentious and public negotiations over how much Regence would pay Salem Health for care.

Regence said Salem Health was seeking double-digit prices increases, while Salem Health said the increases were needed to bring Regence in-line with what other commercial insurers paid.

In a statement, Regence Oregon President Angela Dowling said the agreement "delivers high-quality, cost-effective care to the community."

"The new agreement also addresses Salem Health’s concerns about sharing the costs of health care in our community fairly," said Cheryl Wolfe, Salem Health president and CEO, in a statement.

The three-year contract covers Salem Health Professional Services, a network of doctors and other providers employed by Salem Health, Regence spokesman Jared Ishkanian said.

Those providers became out-of-network last summer after Salem Health and Regence failed to reach an agreement, which meant some Salem residents had to pay more to see long-time doctors.

The nearly 5,700 Salem-area residents insured on Regence Medicare plans are also covered by the agreement.

Have a tip? Reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

LOCAL NEWS AND A LOCAL SUBSCRIPTION -- For $10 a month, Salem Reporter provides breaking news alerts, emailed newsletters and around-the-clock access to our stories. We depend on subscribers to pay for in-depth, accurate news. Help us grow and get better by subscribing today. Sign up HERE