Oceanside, NY, June 24, 2018 --(PR.com
)-- Patients, members of Empire BlueCross Blue Shield, elected officials and union leaders today called on Empire BlueCross to stop putting profits over patients so tens of thousands of local residents can continue to access medical services at South Nassau Communities Hospital.
Empire BlueCross has refused to provide South Nassau with a fair reimbursement rate – similar to what it pays other Nassau County hospitals for the same services – so its nurses and physicians can continue to provide quality care to some 900,000 residents in its service area on the South Shore.
If the health insurance conglomerate does not change its position in contract talks with South Nassau, Empire BlueCross members, including thousands of current and retired government employees, will not be able to access non-emergency care at South Nassau as of July 1st.
"We are asking for parity with what Empire BlueCross pays other hospitals. In some instances, BlueCross is paying nearby hospitals as much as 40 percent more for the same procedure," said Richard J. Murphy, president and CEO of South Nassau. "A fair reimbursement rate from BlueCross will allow South Nassau to properly compensate our nursing, physician and support staff so they can continue to provide the kind of quality care our patients expect."
Local elected officials joined the rally. "For-profit health insurance giants, like Anthem BlueCross, are earning record profits while non-profit hospitals across the country are struggling to keep their doors open. It's time we held them accountable!
"South Nassau is our community hospital with a commitment to meet the healthcare needs of the over 900,000 residents that it serves, including many of my constituents. I fully support them in their fight and urge Blue Cross to give South Nassau a fair reimbursement rate," said Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford.
Following months of fruitless negotiations, South Nassau's contract with BlueCross expired May 1, 2018. At the end of a 60 day cooling off period, South Nassau will be "out of network" with Empire BlueCross unless a new agreement is reached starting July 1.
If an agreement is not reached on or before July 1, people insured by Empire BCBS and who rely on South Nassau for healthcare services could face higher out-of-pocket costs for non-emergency services.
By law, emergency room visits and any admissions resulting from an ER visit will still be considered in network. Exceptions also made for established patients who need continuation of care for an ongoing illness, such as a pregnancy or chemotherapy. "We know it will be difficult for our patients if Blue Cross chooses to put profits over patients. However, we will do whatever we can to help manage the impact of the disruption," said Murphy.
Last year, Anthem, Inc., which owns Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, reported $3.4 billion in profit, a 55 percent increase in profitability over 2016. Additionally, under the Trump tax reform package passed last year, Anthem/Blue Cross received a $1 billion credit in corporate tax relief, reducing the tax they paid to $121 million at a corporate tax rate of 3.1 percent – far below the tax rate imposed on most Long Island households.