BCBS responds to Sanderson on stalemate with hospital

BCBS responds to Sanderson on stalemate with hospital

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
State Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, has received an interesting response from his letter to BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
Sanderson last month offered his help to resolve the contract dispute between BlueCross BlueShield and Baptist Memorial Health Care.
“I wholeheartedly wish to convey my support and encouragement for a meeting of the minds regarding this matter between BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City in order to ensure that our state employees, small business owners and their families will have continuous health coverage and neither entity will receive any negative publicity over this matter,” Sanderson’s letter stated in part.
In response, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee president and CEO-elect William M. Gracey responded with a two-page letter indicating his company’s willingness to resolve the dispute.
“We understand you have only the best interests of your constituents at heart, and we want you to know we share your concerns about their access to care at this facility,” Gracey stated in his letter to Sanderson. “For context, BlueCross exercised our contractual rights to terminate our Network S contract with Baptist Memorial Health Care. Baptist objected to this decision, and we are now pursuing arbitration of the dispute as called for in our agreement. Admittedly, obtaining a decision from the arbitration panel may take several months, if not more.”
Gracey goes on in his letter to emphasize that BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee remains interested in keeping the Union City hospital in the S Network. He states “this continues to be our position today. We will accept such an agreement immediately.”
However, Gracey explains, “Baptist has contended that we must take ALL or NONE of its facilities in Network S.”
“We have simply asked Baptist to offer BlueCross the same access to Union City that it currently offers one of our competitors, which does not contract with the Memphis area Baptist facilities,” Gracey stated.
He further stated in his letter that BlueCross is continuing its efforts to reach an agreement with Baptist Memorial Health Care and is also “taking steps to facilitate citizens’ access to Union City as in-network.”
“Specifically, we have coordinated with the State and have confirmed that they will provide their employees the option to change to another health plan that includes access to the facility. In addition, we are considering ways to provide our fully insured customers, mainly area small business owners, with other options to access the facility, including our currently offered Network P plan,” Gracey stated.
In a related development, a program has been scheduled for later this month to provide an update on negotiations between BlueCross of Tennessee and Baptist Memorial Health Care.
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union City administrator and chief executive officer Barry “Skipper” Bondurant will be joined by Union City Insurance Agency’s senior vice president of employee benefits Mary Nita Bondurant in headlining the Dec. 18 Business Matters program at the Obion County Public Library.
The program will begin at 7:45 a.m. and is being hosted by the Obion County Chamber of Commerce.
The session is entitled “Health Care and Insurance Updates for Obion County” and is being sponsored by Cox Oil Co.
Mrs. Frilling said the Business Matters programs are typically open only to chamber members, but due to the importance of the issue to be discussed at the Dec. 18 program, the public is invited to attend the session.

Published in The Messenger 12.6.12

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