Bobby Harrison – Politics sometimes creates strange bedfellows

At least one positive in the current dispute between insurance company BlueCross & BlueShield and private hospital company Health Management Associates is a rare glimpse of bipartisanship in the state.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood – often at odds – are joining forces to try to force Blue Cross to reinstate 10 HMA hospitals across the state, including Gilmore in Amory, to its network.

Bryant issued an executive order to force BlueCross to reinstate the hospitals and Hood is defending in court the governor’s authority to undertake such a bold move. Among the entities opposing Bryant’s effort is Republican Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.

Chaney’s main contention is that the governor is usurping his authority and wading off in an area where he has little or no expertise.

The make matters even a little more interesting is that thus far Bryant’s efforts to force BlueCross to reinstate the hospitals is being blocked by U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate of the Southern District of Mississippi, an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan.

While Wingate is trying to determine whether BlueCross’s actions hinder health case access for its policyholders, at the very core the dispute is centered around money. HMA, a giant Florida-based company, wants Blue Cross, a behemoth Mississippi mutual insurance company, to reimburse its hospitals at a higher rate for the services they provide to patients insured through BlueCross.

Ultimately, unless something dramatic happens, the issues will be worked out by the courts.

What may be of more interest is the dynamics of Hood defending Bryant’s right to intervene in the dispute and essentially to trump the elected insurance commissioner and even order the commissioner to undertake certain actions.

Daily Journal
10/30/13