Timeline of a controversy

July 5: Mission announced its intent to terminate its contract with BCBSNC “if ongoing negotiations failed to reach an agreement” and established a deadline for new contracts to be in place by midnight on Oct. 4.

July 6: BCBSNC responded with an official statement, claiming “The cancellation is happening because Mission Health has demanded rate increases that we can’t in good conscience ask our customers to pay.”

July 23: Mission Health board members released an op-ed reinforcing their position and pleading their case for public support. The statement explains how they approached BCBSNC six months prior to “request a modest, mid-single digit reimbursement increase,” but were “flatly refused” and pressured to accept a “forever zero” contract because BCBSNC “can’t afford an increase despite dramatically raising premiums to its own customers during each of the last four years.”

July 25: Mission and BCBSNC representatives presented their respective sides of the story at a special meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. Tensions ran high, and some of the commissioners told the companies that the dispute needs to end.

Aug. 10: Mission offered a glimpse of hope by announcing that it would maintain in-network rates for individuals purchasing coverage through the exchange in WNC, but BCBSNC quickly rejected the offer.

Aug. 17:  Mission announced that it would discount charges to patients when BCBSNC checks are sent directly to them, provided that patients send the explanation of benefits and checks to Mission within 10 days.

It also noted a state consumer protection law which provides that fully insured patients cannot be penalized when a participating provider is not available without an unreasonable delay. This law is especially important for services which only Mission provides in the area, such as heart surgery as well as pediatric and high-risk maternity services.

Aug. 18: BCBSNC removed all Mission Health providers from its online directory, despite the fact that such providers remain in network through midnight on Oct. 4.

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About Nick Wilson
Nick Wilson is a native of the Midwest who moved to Asheville in September of 2016 after eight years in Los Angeles. When he's not writing for Mountain Xpress, his energies are focused on better understanding himself and the rich wealth of history that the world has to offer.

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