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Mission, Blue Cross restart negotiations
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 01:09

From Staff Reports 

Mission Health kept its promise in October to terminate its contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, if terms the hospital system deemed profitable could not be reached. 

Mission on July 5 had announced its intent to terminate the contract. Blue Cross then ended negotiations, stating it does not negotiate when a party opts out. The parties were unable to find an agreeable middle ground in the meantime.

The hospital system is also keeping its word about talking minimally to the press if negotiations resumed.

In November, both parties said the negotiations would begin again, but so as not to mislead members of the public with false rays of hope, neither would provide updates unless and until a contract was signed. Afterward, media outlets caught word that the two parties had resumed negotiations.

Previously, BCBSNC had explained it was corporate policy not to negotiate with parties who opt out of its contract, but now that Mission is an out-of-network party, talks could commence. 

Representatives from Mission said they were disappointed becauyse they had expected talks to resume immediately, instead of after a one-month delay.

 As of Oct. 5, those carrying Blue Cross insurance were considered out-of-network by all physicians and facilities affiliated with Mission Health. 

As a result, people seeking medical attention from local providers likely are paying more. However, emergency department visits and certain qualified expenses remain in-network. Those needing medical care are being encouraged to talk to Mission or BCBSNC for answers to specific questions.

 BCBSNC spokesperson Austin Vevurka said on Nov. 13 that “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Mission Health have entered into discussions regarding a future network participation agreement, and will refrain from public comment until those talks are completed.”

Mission spokesperson Rowena Buffett Timms issued similar comments in mid-November, noting, “We have previously said that we were not going to comment, and we continue to refrain from comment.”

The two parties have clashed over rates. 

Read more...
 
Ex-county manager probe triggers more disclosures: Economic development spending raises questions
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 01:06

From Staff Reports 

Economic development expenditures are now being brought into question as the Asheville Citizen-Times continues to spearhead a probe of why former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene may be under federal investigation.

The latest disclosures indicate the county spent $577,116 to support the Tryon International Equestrian Center. All but $897 of the total came from the county’s economic development incentives fund.

 While it is a common practice for counties to wine and dine executives to lure business to their tax bases, the payments were made to a Polk County enterprise owned by Mark Bellissimo. The Tryon Equestrian Center, billed as an economic engine, cost $125 million to build and runs with a $31 million operating budget. 

The county paid $276,427 directly to the equestrian center, $150,689 to Equestrian Sport Productions, and $150,000 to The Chronical of the Horse. All businesses are owned by Bellissimo. The former is an equestrian center based in Wellington, Florida; the latter, a magazine headquartered in Virginia.

Greene had explained the expenses were a promotion for the Asheville Regional Airport.

Mission spokesperson Rowena Buffett Timms issued similar comments in mid-November, noting, “We have previously said that we were not going to comment, and we continue to refrain from comment.”

The two parties have clashed over rates. 

The agreement that was terminated Oct 5 set rates for how much Blue Cross paid Mission for caring for the 260,000 people in Western North Carolina that the insurer covers.

Read more...
 



 


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