While no agreement has been reached, the parent company of Northwest Medical System has decided to honor its existing contract with Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield beyond Sept. 1.
Franklin-Tenn.-based Community Health Systems had previously said it would quit doing business with ABCBS after the insurer would not agree to rate increases for services.
The hospital company owns several hospitals and clinics in Arkansas. Those in Northwest Arkansas are:
• Northwest Medical Center-Springdale
• Northwest Medical Center-Bentonville
• Northwest Medical Center-Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Johnson
• Siloam Springs Regional Hospital
• Northwest Benton County Physician Services in Bentonville
• Northwest Physicians group in Springdale
• Siloam Springs Clinic
The company also owns hospitals and clinics in El Dorado, Forrest City, Helena, and Newport.
For its part, ABCBS said it could not meet the hospital company rate increase demands because it would set them higher than other Arkansas hospitals and physician groups.
But on Wednesday (Aug. 22), a Community Health announced that negotiations had resumed between the hospital and insurer, and that the “existing contract between Northwest Health System and BCBS will continue without interruption.”
“Today’s developments make us optimistic that continued dialogue with BCBS will be both collaborative and productive,” Dan McKay, CEO Northwest Health System, said in a statement. “In the meantime, the many patients, community members and local employers who rely on Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield for their healthcare coverage can have peace of mind knowing their insurance plans will continue to include the local hospitals and physicians they know and trust with their medical care.”
Community Health Systems owns, operates or leases more than 135 hospitals in 29 states, with about 20,000 licensed beds. Through Quorum Health, the company also provides management and consulting services for 150 independent U.S. hospitals and health systems.
Based in Little Rock, Arkansas Blue Cross employs about 2,875 in Arkansas, and has 377,764 members in various health plans.