Anniston hospital parting ways with Blue Cross - - The News for South Mississippi

Anniston hospital parting ways with Blue Cross

Regional Medical Center in Anniston. (Source: WBRC video) Regional Medical Center in Anniston. (Source: WBRC video)

A breakdown in negotiations is being blamed for Regional Medical Center of Anniston parting ways with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.

The state's largest health insurer and the Anniston-based non-profit hospital issued dueling news releases late Thursday saying the hospital would become the only one in the state not part of the BCBS network effective September 12.

A statement from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama calls the development an "unprecedented event."

"Our mission is to provide access to top quality healthcare at the lowest possible cost to our members," said Koko Mackin, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. "Making sure our customers continue to have easy access to the best healthcare is our immediate priority at this time. As always, we will take great care of our members."

RMC CEO David McCormack said on Friday that the development came amid annual negotiations over how much money BCBS of Alabama reimburses the hospital. He says it hasn't kept up with the standard of living over the last few years, and that the non-profit hospital has low-paid employees as a result.

McCormack also says the stand-alone hospital is in a weaker negotiating position than competing hospitals in Anniston and Gadsden, which are corporate-run and can compete as a group.

"And that, unfortunately, has put us in a negotiating position, that we have no strength, and really no power," McCormack said. "So, we really don't negotiate with Blue Cross, they offer us two percent, three percent a year, and we have to take that."

McCormack says he's still confident both sides can return to the table to resume negotiations. And despite some local debates that are already popping up on Facebook, McCormack says the situation has nothing to do with the federal Affordable Care Act that was signed into law by President Obama in 2010.

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