Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has assumed the thankless role of referee in the fisticuffs between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi and Health Management Associates over which hospitals will and won’t be part of the insurance carrier’s network.
Chaney’s office is in the middle of a review to determine whether Blue Cross’ network, minus a handful of HMA hospitals, would provide adequate access to care. That’s the boring policy part. The more entertaining (and superficial) portion of the fight has been on your television and stuffed in your mailbox. HMA started several weeks ago sending mailers designed to paint Blue Cross as a corporation whose greed is surpassed only by its wickedness.
Blue Cross recently responded with television ads, though they play more like healthy living edicts and don’t directly demonize HMA. Their intent is clear, though: Blue Cross is trying to present itself as something other than what HMA has painted it. In one, John Sullivan plays the reassuring doctor, giving what appears to be a pep talk to a patient. Sullivan’s appearance lasts two seconds. It’s not a major part of the spot. What’s notable is that Sullivan isn’t a doctor — he’s a former lobbyist who’s now the director of the Mississippi chapter of the American Subcontractors Association.