CRESCENT CITY Blue Cross of California clients will continue to have access to services at Sutter Coast Hospital under the same financial terms enjoyed in the past, officials with both companies said Tuesday.

John Menaugh, chief executive officer of the Crescent City hospital, said the hospital has received verbal acceptance from the Blue Cross to renew its agreement with the insurance company.

Menaugh said the hospitals renewal offer is region-specific, and that Sutter Healths Blue Cross contract termination is still in effect in most other parts of Northern California.

We offered the same deal (as the former agreement), and we are trying to expedite the process so it wont work a hardship on our clients, Menaugh said.

It is unusual for a Sutter Hospital to contract with an insurance company on an individual basis, he said.

Such contracts are traditionally negotiated by parent company Sutter Health for all its member hospitals, he said.

Working together as a system has helped us build a new hospital for this community and to add many new clinical programs, services and equipment, Menaugh said.

He explained that health plan options in this region are limited, and it has become clear that the lack of a contract with Blue Cross would cause a hardship for many in the community.

Bill Gleason, vice-president of communications for Sutter Health, said an verbal agreement between the two companies was reached Jan. 12. Since the offer is the same as the prior contract agreement, Gleason said, I cant imagine that they would say no. We hope that this will alleviate the problem.