Lawmakers threaten to step in if BlueCross BlueShield, HMA can’t break impasse

Testimony got emotional and heated at a legislative hearing Monday on the impasse between BlueCross BlueShield and the company that runs 10 of Mississippi’s hospitals.

Lawmakers said they might step in if the insurer and hospital company can’t reach an agreement.

Hospital Management Associates says BCBS has a monopolistic hold on Mississippi’s health care market and is strong-arming hospitals to try to pay them less or force consolidation of services. They say the insurer dropping HMA from the network threatens to harm or shut down the 10 hospitals HMA operates. HMA wants the Legislature or state insurance commissioner to step in.

But BCBS says HMA hospitals charge too much for services and that the company is being investigated on a national level over charges by the federal government. They said another company is in the process of buying HMA, and some of its hospitals in Mississippi might shut down as a result of that, not anything BCBS is doing.

Clarion Ledger
9/16/13