University of Mississippi Medical Center may drop 28-year-old BCBS contract

Jackson-based University of Mississippi Medical Center may terminate a contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield inked in 1990, according to the Clarion Ledger.

The spat between Mississippi's largest healthcare provider and health insurer could mean BCBS members will face higher out-of-pocket costs to receive treatment at UMMC beginning July 1. A major sticking point is that UMMC's 28-year-old contract with BCBS allows the payer to change financial terms of the agreement without notification, Kevin Cook, CEO of UMMC, said.

"We carry an extra burden for the state of Mississippi ... taking care of the sickest of the sick," Mr. Cook said. "Often insurers recognize that burden. Blue Cross is not recognizing our special status." UMMC is Mississippi's only academic medical center and has the state's only level 1 trauma center, according to the Clarion Ledger.

If contract negotiations fail, some BCBS members with an established diagnosis will retain in-network status, as will members seeking emergency care.

BCBS spokesperson Meredith Bailess told the Clarion Ledger the payer believes "UMMC wants to be treated differently from other Network Hospitals in this regard and has continued to leave reimbursement opportunities on the table in their resistance to partner with Blue Cross."

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