Insurance commissioner speaks on Blue Cross and UMMC issue

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:31 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Mediation between Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi and University of Mississippi Medical Center ended on Oct. 13, but Mississippi’s insurance commissioner said talks will continue.

UMMC has not been in the Blue Cross network since April when the two entities could not reach an agreement. UMMC is asking Blue Cross for substantial increases to inpatient, outpatient and professional reimbursement rates. Commissioner Mike Chaney says both sides need to get it together.

“I’m not happy with either party. I’m very open about it and we need more transparency. It’s like a shakedown. Everybody sees more money at Blue Cross and everybody hates Blue Cross, but yet they are the big tiger in the room,” Chaney explained. “They cover 750,000 people out of network with the university hospital. That mentality of asking for more money permeates over into other issues like Medicaid. It permeates into Medicare if you’re a senior citizen. It’s complicated but its fairly simple, it’s all about money and power.”

Blue Cross and U-M-M-C used the same mediation process to settle their last contract dispute in 2018.

“They have to keep talking to solve the problem. I finally said, ‘look, we are not going to keep spinning our wheels and y’all telling me you have something settled when you hadn’t,” Chaney said. “Here we are a week later they said they would have it settled tomorrow and we’ve made no progress at all. It’s not the mediator’s fault. It’s just that we have two elephants in the room and they’re fighting.”