BCBS, U of Mississippi Medical Center negotiations moving at 'snail's pace,' state says 

Mediation for contract negotiations between Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi Medical Center has started but is moving at a "snail's pace," according to the state's insurance commissioner, Mississippi Today reported June 7.

"Some preliminary groundwork has been set," Commissioner Mike Chaney told Mississippi Today. "I expect by Monday of next week, it'll ramp up to full steam." 

"I do have the authority to make them mediate," he said. "If either party tries to forestall or hinder mediation, they run the risk of damaging the University (of Mississippi) Medical Center possibly beyond repair. And they run the risk of damaging the health insurance side." 

A UMMC spokesperson told Mississippi Today that mediation will begin next week and Blue Cross declined to comment.

The two parties first notified patients about contract renegotiations in early February. By April 1, UMMC was out of network with the payer. By the end of April and at the behest of Mr. Chaney, the two parties agreed to mediation to resolve the dispute.

In the meantime, the dispute has left some patients in a bad position. One patient is fearful his liver transplant surgery won't be covered by his BCBS policy at UMMC, the state's only organ transplant hospital. The patient claimed BCBS and UMMC would not tell him how much the surgery would cost while out of network or how he should proceed.

Mr. Chaney intervened, and UMMC has now provided a cost estimate to the patient and Mr. Chaney, and BCBS has provided an amount to Mr. Chaney. Still, the patient said he's never received anything in writing and is still unable to get a cost estimate for what the immunosuppressants post-surgery would cost, according to Mississippi Today.

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