Memorial Health Care System and BlueCross BlueShield are still at odds in contract talks with just a little over a month remaining.
Memorial officials have told BlueCross subscribers that if no agreement is reached by July 31 "you can still receive care at Memorial, but may be faced with reduced benefits from BlueCross starting Aug. 1, 2012."
James Hobson, Memorial president, said the contract talks have been ongoing since last November.
He said if there is no agreement, then Memorial facilities will be considered out of network for BlueCross members.
He stated, "We work very hard to operate efficiently and provide high quality care at an affordable price, and we will keep pursuing that goal. In fact, recent third party analysis shows that Memorial is the high quality, high value health system in Chattanooga, yet our reimbursement from BlueCross significantly lags the market."
He added, "We are committed to doing our part for the community and helping people who are uninsured and underinsured, demonstrated by the $23 million in community benefits we provided in the last year alone."
BlueCross officials said, "BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is negotiating a new contract with Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga, which will keep Memorial Hospital, Memorial Hospital Hixson and the Mary Ellen Locher Breast Cancer Center in our P network. We have a long-standing relationship with Memorial and very much want Memorial to remain in our network. However, Memorial has asked for a double-digit increase – one that is more than four times the rate of inflation. BlueCross is committed to keeping health care coverage affordable for our members, and we cannot do that by paying significantly more for the same care.
"BlueCross periodically contracts with all of the hospitals in its networks. In most cases we are able to work through any differences and arrive at a new contract that provides a fair profit margin for the hospital and keeps rates as affordable as possible for our members. Although Memorial has publicly threatened to leave our network, we remain hopeful we will reach an agreement with Memorial. If no agreement is reached before July 31, 2012, then Memorial will become an out-of-network provider for BlueCross, and our members will pay an increased rate for treatment at Memorial.
"BlueCross is committed to keeping health care coverage affordable for its members."
BlueCross says its position is:
- Memorial Hospital is seeking a double-digit increase in its reimbursement rate from BlueCross – one that is more than four times the rate of inflation.
- BlueCross has offered Memorial a smaller, but realistic, increase for the upcoming contract. It is an offer that will keep Memorial in the competitive range for hospitals in the Chattanooga market.
- BlueCross will continue to work hard to reach agreement to keep Memorial in our network.
- BlueCross cannot keep premiums affordable for our members if we’re paying significantly more to health care providers for the same care.
- BlueCross will work to ensure our members experience minimal disruptions in their care if Memorial decides to withdraw from our network.
- BlueCross members will have access to the care they need from other quality facilities in our network, specifically Erlanger Health System and Parkridge Health System.