HMA mulls new BlueCross offer

Blue_Cross_Blue_Shield_LogoBy Michaela Gibson Morris

Daily Journal

AMORY – It remained unclear Tuesday how Gilmore Memorial Regional Medical Center and the other HMA hospitals in Mississippi will respond to an offer from BlueCross & BlueShield.

In an ongoing dispute between the state’s largest health insurer and 10 Mississippi hospitals owned by Florida-based Health Management Associates, BlueCross on Monday offered to reinstate the Amory hospital and three others to its provider network because they are the sole hospitals serving their communities.

HMA officials indicated they were evaluating the BlueCross proposal. There was no announcement of a decision Tuesday.

The dispute over reimbursement rates came to a head in June when the HMA hospitals filed suit against BlueCross, making the case that the insurer had not met its obligations under their contract. The hospital system believes BlueCross owes them $18 million.

BlueCross has maintained that charges from several of for-profit hospital group facilities were out of line with rates for other Mississippi hospitals.

BlueCross moved to terminate its contract with HMA hospitals effective Sept. 1 after the lawsuit was filed.

On Monday afternoon, BlueCross made public its offer to reinstate the HMA hospitals in Amory, Clarksdale, Batesville and Flowood, which are the only hospitals operating in their respective communities.

That left six HMA hospitals in the metro Jackson area, Natchez and Biloxi still outside the BlueCross network.

A Monday evening statement said the HMA hospitals were evaluating the offer and while it appeared to be good news for four cities, it neglected the needs of six other communities surrounding its other hospitals.

Reimbursement for emergency services are still covered for BlueCross customers at the HMA hospitals. Only elective procedures would be affected by out-of-network rates.

Gilmore and the other HMA hospitals have pledged to accept what BlueCross patients would have paid under the in-network rates.

michaela.morris@journalinc.com