PINELLAS COUNTY - Representing more than 17,000 constituents of both Baycare Health and United Health Care, Pinellas County Commissioners, along with local government and business leaders convened to call on the two health care companies to stop their sick bickering.
"Right now we're not taking sides on this because we would like to see them come together," Board Chair John Morroni said.
It's an unhealthy squabble that has left many -- especially those in the northern part of the county with limited access to the region's largest hospital system.
"We implore -- and I use that word sincerely -- We Implore United Healthcare and Baycare Health System to agree to adhere to the following statement of principles, and responsible actions," he continued.
Morroni went on to ask both sides to exercise corporate responsibility and good stewardship, put aside selfish interests, end polarization and intransigence and come together in good faith to resolve differences in the public interest… in other words, figure this thing out.
County administrator Robert LaSala agrees.
"We believe that they ought to be conducting a good faith negotiation and not take us all over a cliff," he said.
United Healthcare insists that Baycare's 22 percent hike in cost to employer sponsored plans is unreasonable. Baycare's contention is that it's owed more than 11 million by United.
The folks who lined up to show their solidarity to put pressure on both admit this is pretty much symbolic, but they're also looking at taking their business elsewhere.
"…If they can't get it right, then we're gonna have to make some very hard decisions," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.