Bryant orders Blue Cross to temporarily reinstate 10 hospitals

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Governor Phil Bryant issued an executive order Tuesday requiring Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi to reinstate 10 Mississippi hospitals to its network, including Biloxi Regional Medical Center.

The reinstatement will only last about 60 days until an investigation can be completed.

"I had hoped the two parties could come to some resolution, but as Governor, I cannot sit back and allow Mississippian's access to care to be threatened in violation of state law," Gov. Bryant said. "It is my hope that a full investigation will ensure that no law has been broken as it relates to a patient's access to care and a provider's responsibility under state law."

"All Blue Cross policy holders, doctors and patients again have unfettered access to the hospital of their choice, thanks to the actions today of Governor Bryant," said Monte Bostwick, Chief Executive Officer at Biloxi Regional Medical Center. "There may be continued confusion in coming days as we see how Blue Cross responds. So we want to remind patients and doctors that this hospital has agreed to absorb Blue Cross out-of-network member fees to date."

According to Executive Order 1327 it provides, first, that the 10 hospitals will be returned temporarily to the network on the same terms on which they operated prior to their exclusion.

Second, the Governor's Order provides for the Department of Insurance to complete its ongoing investigation of the hospitals' exclusion and, if appropriate, hold hearings on any violations of the law that are identified.

If the Department identifies no violations, the Order requires it to submit a report explaining why the hospitals' exclusion is consistent with applicable state law.

The Order provides that the investigation, as well as any required hearings or reports, should be completed within 60 days. It will then expire automatically seven days after this process concludes.

Tuesday's action by the governor is not meant to resolve the dispute, and will have no effect on the ongoing lawsuit. It's intended only to preserve access to care until a full investigation is complete. Bryant said it's based on the Mississippi Patient Protection Act of 1995, which requires BCBS and other insurers to provide their enrollees with "reasonable access to care with minimum inconvenience."

The Department of Insurance's investigation will address whether the hospitals' exclusion from BCBS's network runs afoul of this requirement or violates any other state law.

As a result of the Governor's Order, the ten affected hospitals will be returned to the BCBS's network under the terms of their prior contracts, and patients enrolled in BCBS's plans may not be required to pay "out-of-network" charges for treatment or care at these facilities.

You can download Executive Order 1327 by going to the following link:

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