AMORY – BlueCross & BlueShield of Mississippi late Monday announced an offer to reinstate network provider agreements with four Health Management Associates hospitals, including Gilmore Memorial Regional Medical Center in Amory.
Other HMA hospitals included in the offer are:
• Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in Clarksdale
• Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville
• Woman’s Hospital in Flowood
“Since HMA is not willing to take the necessary action for these hospitals that provide a unique service to their community, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi will take the leadership role and move forward,” said Blue Cross Corporate Communications Manager Meredith Virden.
“ As to the other HMA hospitals, significant issues regarding HMA’s charges and lack of focus on managing healthcare costs are still of great concern.”
HMA’s other six Mississippi hospitals are in Biloxi, Natchez and the metro Jackson area.
HMA’s corporate office has not said whether it will accept the offer. The hospital company has been treating BlueCross & BlueShield policy holders and in-network patients since expiration of the contract on Sept. 1.
Gilmore CEO Allen Tyra could not be reached for comment late Monday.
HMA in June filed suit against BlueCross, claiming the insurer had not met its obligations under its contract with the for-profit hospital system. BlueCross countered that HMA’s reimbursement rates were too high and notified the 10 hospitals they would no longer be a part of the insurer’s network effective Sept. 1.
BlueCross & BlueShield policy holders make up about 60 percent patients treated at HMA’s hospitals in Mississippi.
Until Monday, BlueCross had shown no interest in settling the stalemate. HMA officials had accused BlueCross of “corporate bullying” and said the action would have a detrimental impact on the patients and communities its hospitals served.
Gilmore had seen about a 30 percent drop in the number of BlueCross patients served since the hospital was excluded from the network, Tyra said.
On Thursday, Gilmore supporters held a rally at the hospital protesting BlueCross’s position and claiming it was an intimidation tactic in response to HMA’s lawsuit.
Contributing to this story were Emily Tubb of the Monroe Journal, Ted Carter of the Mississippi Business Journal and Michaela Gibson Morris of the Daily Journal.