Despite our best efforts to negotiate a fair resolution to the current contract dispute with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee to ensure our patients continue to receive the safest and highest quality care, we are not likely to have a resolution before contracts expire Dec. 31, 2022.
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare negotiated in good faith, offering a number of concessions, including deep discounts on our current rates and to extend current contracts with BCBST to minimize any disruption in care for patients. Yet, BCBST continues to make unreasonable demands and refuses our offers.
Even though hospital costs have risen due to labor shortages, supply chain disruption, inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, our rates remain competitive with comparable health systems.Our rates are fair and reflect our investment in providing the safest and highest quality care in the Mid-South – not to mention the world-class care our most vulnerable patients receive at our nationally ranked Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
BCBST claims this is about money. For them, it is. For us, it is about being able to provide the highest quality, safest care for every patient who enters our facilities. As a non-profit organization, our patients’ needs always come first. But, to meet those needs, we must receive the appropriate funding to purchase state-of-the-art equipment, invest in our infrastructure, pay our Associates a proper wage and provide millions of dollars in care to our community. Last year, that amount totaled $200 million. Meanwhile, BCBST showed a net income of more than half a billion in 2021, a 46% increase from 2020.
We are deeply disappointed in the lack of resolution in this matter. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare remains committed to providing the safest and highest quality care to patients. MLH remains open to good faith and balanced negotiations and is committed to keeping the lines of communications open.
What were the sticking points that left MLH unable to settle with BCBST?
BCBST is unreasonable in its demands. Throughout this negotiation process, MLH has made a number of concessions – including proposing a deeply discounted rate to ensure our patients could continue seeking access to care. BCBST refused any reasonable proposals. We also requested a six-month extension to minimize disruption of care for our patients as we continue negotiations. BCBST also refused this proposal.
BCBS has stated that it offered you a contract with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital keeping the current rates intact but you refused. Why?
We recognize this is incredibly frustrating and concerning for our patients and their families who rely on specialized care at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. We take our responsibility very seriously to provide even our littlest patients with the safest and highest quality of care in our region. Contract negotiations with BCBST affect a variety of patients across our health system. We believe in fighting for fair rates on behalf of all of our patients and families.
What happens to BCBST’s TennCare patients?
BCBST is also restricting TennCare and TennCare Select patients from accessing care at MLH facilities when contracts expire for commercial patients. These contracts should not be negotiated separately. BCBST wants to cherry pick patients and we will not allow that to happen.
Rachel Powers Doyle
Senior Communications Specialist