Letters to the Editor September 1, 2013

Blue Cross over-reaches in issue involving thousands

Blue Cross and the HMA hospitals are having a dispute about how much Blue Cross owes HMA for certain services. There’s nothing unusual or even unfortunate about this. In our system, individuals can’t easily shop for the best price for a hospital stay, and they don’t have much bargaining power. Insurers, such as Blue Cross, do have market power, and they do work to hold down prices.

This dispute is different, though. Blue Cross has over-reacted, and hundreds of thousands of its customers are the losers.
HMA contends it is being underpaid under its existing contract with Blue Cross, and has filed suit asking a court to resolve the issue. Blue Cross has retaliated by terminating its contract with HMA, meaning those who have Blue Cross coverage will have to pay more to go to a HMA hospital. In Amory, where the only hospital is an HMA hospital, patients would have to change doctors and go to a hospital in another city. For now, I understand that HMA has agreed to absorb the costs itself, but that is only a temporary fix.

If Blue Cross couldn’t reach a contract with HMA because HMA wanted to charge too much, that would be a different situation. Here, though, Blue Cross has acted because HMA had the nerve to ask a court to resolve a contract dispute. I have no idea who is right about the dispute, but it’s wrong to punish someone for submitting a disagreement to a neutral court.

Blue Cross is not always the bad guy. In this case, though, they have seriously over-reached. Blue Cross should continue to allow its patients to use their insurance at HMA hospitals without penalty. If not, this matter is likely to escalate, to the detriment of all of us.

Sen. Hob Bryan
District 7
Amory

Mooreville resident sharply assails some in Congress
Rep. Nunnelee, Sen. Wicker and Sen. Cochran would be wise to stop wasting their time trying to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act. They should be devoting all their time and energy working to replace the Affordable Care Act with a Single Pay Universal Health Care Law. Oh sure, the insurance companies will fight it and the Honorable Boys will lose their big fat campaign donations but that’s okay because they don’t work for the special interest. They work for us, the people of Mississippi. Right?

Michael A. Dorman
Mooreville