SuperTalk Mississippi

UMMC says Blue Cross has yet to start negotiations

Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is seeking to renegotiate their contract with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi (BCBSMS).

UMMC has said that they will terminate their current agreement on June 30th, 2018 with the insurance supplier if their current contract is not renegotiated.

“Our contract is 28 years old,” said Kevin Cook, CEO of UMMC’s health system. “It currently has language in it that allows Blue Cross to change the financial terms whenever they want, without notification and we don’t find that that is acceptable anymore or a modern business relationship that we should have with a large payer and us being the state’s only academic medical center.”

While state employees who have Blue Cross as a provider would not be affected if the contract is not renegotiated, Cook said that commercial Blue Cross patients would be. He added that those patients make up approximately 13%  of the patients that they see at UMMC, which translates to roughly 4,000 admissions a year.

However, UMMC is not the only hospital with this type of a contract. Tim Moore, President of the Mississippi Hospital Association said that all of the contracts are set up the same way.

“I’ve had so many calls from hospitals saying, ‘look this is a problem,’ and it has been an ongoing problem.”

Moore recalled a similar instance several years ago when North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo took a stand, however, the negotiations were unsuccessful.

Without a new agreement in place by June 30, UMMC will become out-of-network for BCBSMS customers, and those patients may face higher out-of-pocket costs. Normally, exceptions are made for patients who need emergency medical care or established patients who need continuing care for an ongoing illness.

However, both Moore and Cook said they believe a contract renegotiation will take place.

“Our hope is that blue cross will come to the table and negotiate in good faith,” Cook said. “To date, all they have said is that our contract is our contract and they are not willing to negotiate on any points of it… I would hope that they [Blue Cross] would know that having an insurer, as large as Blue Cross is important in the state of Mississippi. All we are asking for is the same type of relationship that other academic medical centers have with medical insurers, the same type that we have with other insurers. That’s all we are asking for from Blue Cross, to be treated as others are treated.”

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