'It's like a shakedown': Insurance commissioner addresses U of Mississippi-BCBS impasse

Mississippi's insurance commissioner said talks between Jackson-based University of Mississippi Medical Center and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi are continuing, only without the help of a mediator, ABC affiliate WTOK reported Oct. 26. 

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney suspended mediations earlier this month after six weeks without progress. BCBS and the medical center have been without a contract since April 1. The two organizations agreed to mediation by Walter Johnson, of law firm Watkins and Eager, on April 27, but have been unable to reach an agreement. 

Mr. Chaney said he is not happy with either side, according to the report. 

"I’m very open about it and we need more transparency," he said, according to the report. "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. 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 it's fairly simple: It's all about money and power."

The sides used the same mediation process successfully in 2018. Mr. Chaney said the impasse is not the mediator's fault. 

"It's just that we have two elephants in the room and they're fighting," he said, according to the report. 

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