BCBSNE open to negotiating after rejecting CHI proposal

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) will not accept CHI’s latest proposal in the contract dispute between the two companies, but BCBSNE officials say they welcome the opportunity to discuss real solutions that make sense to Nebraskans.”

CHI Health presented a contract proposal on Monday in an effort to rejoin BCBSNE’s statewide provider network. BCBSNE terminated CHI’s contract on August 31 because CHI costs 10% to 30% more than other providers in Omaha, and has been unwilling to bring its costs in line.

Although the proposal called for a $10 million cost reduction in 2015, CHI costs $60 million more annually than other providers in Omaha for the same services. The proposal also asked for increases at CHI’s Lincoln facilities of 20% at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center and 37% at the Nebraska Heart Hospital. In total, the proposal accounted for less than a 2% cost decrease.

“We carefully evaluated CHI’s proposal, but in the final analysis it doesn’t do nearly enough to seriously address the cost differences between CHI and other providers,” said BCBSNE senior vice president Pat Bourne. “We have a responsibility to our members to hold the line on rising health care costs.”

CHI imposed a 72-hour deadline for accepting a proposal with little detail, and told BCBSNE’s team there was “no room for negotiation” on the offer. Bourne said there are elements in the proposal BCBSNE could begin to build a new contract on—if CHI would have been open to it.

“We believe their approach does not move us closer together,” Bourne said. “And it tells us CHI is not really interested in working together to reach an agreement for our members and their patients.”

Bourne said it was especially troubling that CHI announced in the proposal letter that beginning January 1, it would bill patients with BCBSNE coverage in 5 Nebraska communities the full amount for services, rather than accept the previous in-network amount CHI promised to take as payment in full.

Last week, BCBSNE announced that it was extending in-network benefits for members who used CHI hospitals in Grand Island, Kearney, Nebraska City, Schuyler and Plainview. CHI’s plan to bill the difference between what BCBSNE pays and the full amount of services could add significant costs for members.

“We are extremely disappointed with CHI’s attempts to lock our members out of care in those communities—or charge them more if they get care at those facilities,” Bourne said. “We will work with our members to get the care they need, maximize their benefits and avoid CHI’s higher out-of-network costs.”



The percentage of the bill you pay after your deductible has been met.


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A health care plan featuring multiple levels of benefits based on the network status of a particular provider. 


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