The continuing impasse between the HealthAlliance hospitals and Empire BlueCross BlueShield is hurting patients. The matter is this. The old agreement between the two agencies expired on May 31st. The agencies should have come to some agreement before that happened but, in this case, they failed to do so.
As a result, Empire BlueCross and Blue Shield earlier declared the Kingston hospital out of network. This means, Blue Cross & Blue Shield health insurance customers can’t claim the company’s cover if they are treated at the Kingston hospital.
HealthAlliance, which runs two hospitals in New York State was recently acquired by Westchester Medical Center Health Network. One of the hospitals is located in Midtown Kingston while the other is located in Delaware County (Margaretville Memorial Hospital).
Extend old contract till you come to an understanding, say lawmakers
Now, two New York State lawmakers, George Amedore and Kevin Cahill have urged both parties to extend the expired contract until they come to an understanding. The lawmakers said, they were co-sponsoring a legislation that would force the two companies to enter a 90-day mediation period, during which, the terms of the earlier contract will continue, while the parties try and attempt to break the impasse with the help of a professional mediator.
Explaining his reasons for sponsoring the legislation, Amedore said, ‘the health and safety of the local residents is the first priority. Thousands of people, including many state and county officials and their families stay in the area. They depend on the Kingston hospital for their healthcare needs. Because of the impasse, these people are being forced to travel long distances to get healthcare facilities. The only other option for these people is to dig into their pockets and pay the prevailing market rates for healthcare which is very expensive. That is unacceptable.
Margaretville Empire customers won’t be affected, assures company
The last contract expired before the two agencies were able to come to an understanding on extending the contract. Except for emergency services and procedures authorized by Blue Cross & Blue Shield before May 31st, Empire customers would have to pay for all other treatments on their own. But Empire patients at the Margaretville branch of HealthAlliance are still covered. Empire has announced that these patients will be covered by Excellus, another insurer.