UMMC and Blue Cross Blue Shield enter negotiations to settle contract dispute


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UMMC and Blue Cross Blue Shield enter negotiations to settle contract dispute

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) said May 30 that it will stop accepting insurance policies from Blue Cross & Blue Shield (BCBS) of Mississippi from July 1, unless a new agreement can be reached.

On May 02, UMMC released a statement, saying it is in negotiations with BCBSMS for an updated contract with the insurance provider, with the hope for a new agreement over the next two months.

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, the company said.

According to Charles O’Mara, UMMC associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs: “During the coming weeks, as we continue to negotiate with BCBSMS, absolutely nothing will change for our patients. We encourage Blue Cross members to continue to visit their UMMC care providers just as they always have. Our goal is to maintain business as usual, so our patients do not experience any disruption in their care.”

“We are committed to negotiating with Blue Cross in good faith,” O’Mara added. “However, it’s important to understand that our current agreement with Blue Cross was developed 28 years ago, when UMMC and the health care industry were vastly different. Most troubling, the base contract from 1990 allows Blue Cross to make any changes it wants to the terms of the agreement – including what it pays us for services we deliver to patients – without consulting UMMC.”

Meanwhile, Mississippi's Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney issued a statement urging UMMC and BCBSMS to find a common ground before the contract termination date so that the patients continue to receive access to quality healthcare without suffering financial penalties.

"As Commissioner of Insurance, I am prohibited by regulation from acting to mediate or settle disputes between a health carrier and a medical provider arising under a provider contract. I urge both BCBS and UMMC to work diligently to find common ground prior to the June 30th termination date. It is my expectation that should the contract actually terminate, BCBS will continue to pay network benefits and UMMC will refrain from balance billing patients until the parties resolve their differences,” said Chaney.

UMMC, BCBSMS, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield, contract dispute, Mike Chaney, Charles O’Mara, US