News analysis: Legislators may intervene in hospital insurance dispute in Mississippi

Hospital owner Health Management Associates has a not-so-secret advantage in its dispute with insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi. Lawmakers are poised to intervene in the dispute if it’s not resolved by the time the legislative session opens in January.

That could be one factor in HMA’s decision to decline Blue Cross’ offer to reinstate four of the 10 hospitals that the state’s largest private insurer kicked out of its network at the end of August. Blue Cross made the move after HMA sued the Flowood-based insurer, saying Blue Cross broke contract terms by underpaying for a number of procedures.

Blue Cross said HMA, a for-profit hospital company based in Naples, Fla., charges too much to pad profits. Blue Cross said it’s trying to keep health insurance costs from rising too much.