Contract talks between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, THR at impasse

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Discussions to extend a contract between local health care giant Texas Health Resources and one of the state’s largest insurance providers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, fell apart on Monday, officials with both sides said.

Texas Health’s contract expires on Dec. 31, 2016, but the insurer did not engage in substantial negotiations until recently, according to THR.

“Their continued delays place patients, their employers and their physicians in the middle of this and may ultimately and significantly disrupt their care,” said Barclay Berdan, the CEO of Texas Health Resources, in a statement on Monday. “This need not have happened.”

BCBSTX says the Richardson-based insurance provider initiated contract negotiations in July, but Texas Health chose not to respond to its initial proposal. BCBSTX officials said the company has offered Texas Health the opportunity to extend the current contracts for one year to allow for more time to negotiate longer-term contracts, but said Texas Health proposed new short-term contracts with large rate increases.

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“When providers demand huge increases, it hits our members in their pocketbooks,” said Paul D. Hain, market president for the North Texas Region for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Texas.

In November, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and Baylor Scott & White Health announced a new four-year agreement, giving BCBSTX members continued access to the Baylor Scott & White health care system.

For Arlington-based THR, this was the first time it began negotiating with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas following the creation of the THR and UT Southwestern Medical Center pairing in a clinically integrating network.

“Southwestern Health’s integration represents everything North Texans and the region’s employers want from the health care system – enhanced quality, affordability, improved care coordination, and a comprehensive network of high-quality physicians and services,” Berdan said, noting that health plans around the country have been demanding such systems from providers.

Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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