Attention: Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Beneficiaries
For the past few months, University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) officials have been meeting with representatives of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi (BCBSMS) to negotiate a new contract and payment rates UMMC receives for providing health care services to the insured beneficiaries of BCBSMS. Unfortunately, these discussions have made little progress to date, and so we felt we had no alternative but to notify BCBSMS that we intend to terminate our contract with them effective June 30, 2018.
UMMC's current contract with BCBSMS is 28 years old and was adopted in an era when both UMMC and the health care industry were vastly different. Most troubling, the base contract contains a provision that allows BCBSMS to make any changes it wants to the terms of the contract - including payment rates - without consulting UMMC. Fair and equitable contracts with our payor partners - like BCBSMS - allow us to keep the physicians and other medical providers, technology, facilities, staff and resources we need to provide the very best care possible to our patients.
If the issue is not resolved and the contract ends July 1, BCBSMS beneficiaries may continue to rely on UMMC for their care but may incur higher out-of-pocket costs for using a facility and provider that are "out of network." We apologize in advance for any inconvenience or hardship this may create for you.
Please note, this does not affect employee participants and their dependents in the State and School Employees Health Insurance Plan, which is administered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield. It involves employee groups and individuals who are direct customers of BCBSMS in the commercial insurance market. However, UMMC employee family members may be on a BCBSMS commercial plan, and UMMC students who participate in the institution's BCBSMS managed student health insurance plan would also be affected should an agreement not be reached by June 30.
Academic medical centers like UMMC play a unique role in our society. They offer advanced services not available at other facilities. UMMC provides the state's only Level I trauma center, only Children's Hospital, only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit and its only organ and bone marrow transplant services, among many others. We're also the state's principal safety net provider, caring for the sickest of the sick and afording access to all. Our citizens count on these services.
We want to assure you that we remain committed to working with BCBSMS to achieve a fair and equitable agreement. In the meantime, we pledge to keep you apprised of our progress and to provide more detailed direction to you if that becomes necessary. We want you to understand that we consider this to be a very serious matter or we would not consider this course of action.
Please know that whatever happens, we are here to take care of you and your family. We take our responsibility to the people of Mississippi very seriously and will always keep the needs of our patients at the heart of what we do.
If you have questions about how this action might affect you, please contact Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi at (601) 664-4590 or 1-800-942-0278.
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