FLOWOOD, Miss. (WLBT) – A major insurance provider is suing the state’s only trauma clinic, asking the courts to block what it says are “criminal efforts” by the clinic designed to damage its reputation.
On Thursday, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi filed a lawsuit in Rankin County Chancery Court against the University of Mississippi Medical Center seeking an injunction against the hospital’s employees for “initiating and continuing a public relations campaign aimed at spreading false and defamatory statements. Blue Cross to the people.”
According to the complaint, the campaign was designed to damage Blue Cross’s reputation and pressure the company into entering into a new contract that the insurer says would benefit UMMC.
The suit comes months after UMMC dropped Blue Cross from the insurance group after UMMC said the provider refused to raise its premiums close to “fair market” rates.
The agreement between the two organizations ended on March 31. However, UMMC allowed patients with ongoing illnesses to be covered through July 1.
Blue Cross announced the lawsuit in a press release Thursday. UMMC employees named in the suit include Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Dr. Alan Jones, Marc Rolph, and other unnamed employees.
“The main arguments in these workers’ speeches and media campaigns are: [Blue Cross] terminated its contracts with UMMC and thereby ‘forced,’ ‘dropped,’ ‘dismissed,’ ‘excluded’ and ‘excluded’ UMMC from BCBSMS’ health care provider and thereby BCBSMS is depriving Blue Cross Blue Shield members of health care. from UMMC,” the release says.
“Indeed, UMMC has intentionally terminated its agreements with BCBSMS. On January 28, 2022, Dr. Woodward informed BCBSMS that UMMC is terminating all of its Professional Provider Network Agreements between BCBSMS and UMMC physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals as of on March 31,” the release continued.
Woodward and Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice-chancellor and director of the University Medical Center.
We contacted Marc Rolph, head of the hospital’s marketing communications office, and he declined to comment.
In the past, UMMC claimed that Blue Cross had been paying UMMC millions of dollars a year for years.
“We are disappointed that Blue Cross does not appreciate the Medical Center enough to enter into a good contract and keep us in its network. We know that patients are frustrated and disappointed,” Woodward said in April. “We must — for the health and well-being of all Mississippians — stand firm in our determination to have Blue Cross agree to pay us in fair markets.”
According to the suit, Blue Cross and UMMC tried to negotiate new terms for the internet in 2021 and early 2022.
Although UMMC said that compensation should be returned to the fair market, Blue Cross said that the hospital authorities “demanded a large increase, impossible to pay in all areas of medical work, arguing that they and its doctors, nurses, and other allied workers should be paid at the prices. significantly higher than other network hospitals … across the state.”
BCBSMS says that the medical authorities started their campaign against the provider even before their contract expired in March.
“The media’s false accusations continued after UMMC’s termination of the network provider agreement and the termination of the network hospital contracts,” the lawsuit alleges. “Indeed, the defendants’ statements published online, in interviews, on billboards, in social media, in correspondence with Blue Cross members, and in other public statements have been widespread and continue to this day.”
Blue Cross is asking the court to charge the named and unnamed employees individually, which could be determined at trial. It is also asking for legal fees and an injunction barring future contact with Blue Cross.
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