Mississippi Blues offers to reinstate 4 HMA hospitals

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi said Monday it would reinstate four hospitals owned by Health Management Associates that it previously cut from its network in July.

A battle between Blue Cross and the state's second largest hospital company began in June when HMA sued the insurer for allegedly shortchanging its 10 hospitals by more than $13 million. Only a few weeks later, Blue Cross announced it was ending its contracts with the 10 HMA-owned hospitals.

But this week, Blue Cross extended an olive branch of sorts to four of the 10 hospitals, saying it would add the hospitals to the network immediately if HMA agrees to its proposal, reported the Clarion-Ledger.

"Those four hospitals provide unique services for their communities," Blue Cross spokeswoman Meredith Virden said. Three of the hospitals operate in rural areas that lack other major hospitals.

She added that the Blue Cross offer isn't contingent upon HMA dropping its lawsuit against the insurer, WTVA reported.

In response to the Blue Cross offer, HMA questioned why the insurer wouldn't restore all 10 hospitals to its network. HMA said the partial concession shows "[the Blue Cross] decision to lock out 10 hospitals from their provider network was causing devastating consequences for patients, policyholders and communities," the Mississippi Business Journal reported.

But Virden countered, saying, "as to the other HMA hospitals, significant issues regarding HMA's charges and lack of focus on managing healthcare costs are still of great concern."

To learn more:
- read the Clarion-Ledger article
- check out the WTVA article
- see the Mississippi Business Journal article