Gov. Bryant orders BCBS hospital network coverage be reinstated

Published 12:06am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NATCHEZ — Gov. Phil Bryant is ordering Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi to reinstate all 10 hospitals, including Natchez Community Hospital, that it kicked out of its network.

Bryant acted Tuesday, one day after the insurer said it was reinstating four of Health Management Associates’ 10 Mississippi hospitals.

The governor said the order lasts until the Department of Insurance finishes investigating whether Blue Cross’ insurance network is adequate without the hospitals. Bryant ordered the department to finish and hold a hearing within 60 days.

Natchez Community CEO Eric Robinson said Bryant’s action joins other state and local leaders who are trying to ensure Natchez Community Hospital remains a vital and vibrant part of the community.

“Patients and doctors don’t need an insurance company telling them where they have to go to the hospital, and our community depends on this hospital to provide health care, to provide jobs and to pay taxes,” Robinson said.

Typically, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney acts without input from Bryant. The governor says he has authority to step in, but Blue Cross has sued in federal court, calling Bryant’s intervention unconstitutional.

HMA sued Blue Cross for cutting payments without HMA’s agreement. Blue Cross then kicked the hospitals out its network.

“There may be continued confusion in coming days as we see how Blue Cross responds,” Robinson said. “So we want to remind patients and doctors that this hospital has agreed to absorb Blue Cross out-of-network member fees to date. If necessary, we will continue to protect BCBSMS members who choose our hospital from those penalties.”