Governor Phil Bryant and State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney simply disagree on philosophy when it comes to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield-HMA Hospitals dispute.
"Sometimes it's difficult to do the right thing, and we believe we're doing the right thing," Governor Bryant told us this week.
"I had to do what I had to do to protect this agency, and I would do it again," Commissioner Chaney tells us regarding his decision to intervene regarding the Governor's Executive Order for the insurer to reinstate ten hospitals it dropped from its network.
Governor Bryant believes access to healthcare is being compromised by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi. The insurance provider ended its contract with the ten hospitals, which were all under the HMA umbrella. The legality of that executive order is now in court, and there's a restraining order against it for now.
Commissioner Chaney says an executive order is not the answer. He negotiated with Blue Cross himself to get the insurer to offer in-network rates to four of those hospitals. They still don't have the contract they had before, however.
"When you're paid in-network rates, the Blue Cross people or whoever the entity is that pays the money out to the hospital after they've been billed by the hospital would get the money 3-4 days later than what they normally would get," he says.
He explains why he paid particular attention to getting certain hospitals back in-network.
"Amory, Batesville and Clarksdale are clearly in a rural area of the state," said Chaney. "It presents an iffy situation as to whether or not patients have proper access in that area so we thought they should be put back in. Woman's Hospital in Flowood needs to be back in because they provide a valuable service."
Chaney adds that he wanted to see the other hospitals back in the network also.
Commissioner Chaney says a cursory examination revealed that Blue Cross of Mississippi is not violating network access. But he's taking a thorough look at it. An examiner from Atlanta, Georgia was visiting Blue Cross Wednesday, gathering information to make that determination.
Chaney says Blue Cross of Mississippi holds between 50 and 58 percent of the market in this state.
We also asked the Commissioner for an update on how many Mississippians have signed up for the Affordable Healthcare Plan. He says the number is now between 120-150.