Blue Cross and HMA settle hospital payment dispute

Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi's largest health insurer and its second-largest hospital operator have settled their dispute.

Health Management Associates says all 10 of its Mississippi hospitals will return to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi network starting Jan. 1.

Blue Cross spokeswoman Meredith Virden confirms the agreement. Blue Cross pays more to service providers inside its network.

Blue Cross, under pressure from Gov. Phil Bryant and state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, reinstated four of the HMA hospitals in October. Bryant tried forcing the insurer to reinstate the other six, but a federal judge blocked his executive order.

The insurer kicked the hospitals out after HMA sued Blue Cross, claiming Blue Cross violated contracts with Florida-based HMA by cutting payments. Blue Cross denied wrongdoing, saying HMA was trying to raise profits.

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