Dignity Health’s Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Yavapai Regional Medical Group extend negotiations with BCBSAZ for 48 hours
Officials pledge to work on completing a contract to allow continued in-network insurance coverage

Courier file photo

Courier file photo

Just after 11 p.m. Tuesday night, Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Blue Cross/Blue Shield Arizona extended the timeline for negotiations on a new contract that will allow patients with this insurance to continue to be in-network through Thursday, Feb. 2.

With this extension comes the potential for a resolution between the region’s main medical provider and one of the largest insurance carriers to a dispute over medical service payment reimbursements. Officials on both sides have promised efforts to seek a means to continue care to their customers and patients.

Angered and worried patients, combined with local, state and federal lawmakers this week to push leaders of both agencies to find a way to assure Dignity Health YRMC continues to be an in-network provider for the good of thousands in Yavapai County that depend on the hospital and its medical provider group for their medical care.

In a letter to leaders of Blue Cross/Blue Shield Arizona and Dignity Health’s Southwest Division, 2nd Congressional District Rep. Eli Crane and U.S. Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema called on them to do what needs to be done to guarantee proper insurance coverage for thousands of Yavapai County residents.

“Yavapai Regional Medical Center plays a critical role in providing high-quality, inpatient and emergency care for the communities of Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Dewey, Humboldt, Mayer, Paulden, Bagdad, Yarnell, Kirkland, Skull Valley, and Crown King,” the letter reads. “BCBSAZ, as one of three major carriers in this part of Arizona, is critical to ensuring Arizonans and their families are able access the full spectrum of care in their own communities.

“If Yavapai Regional Medical Center were no longer covered under impacted BCBSAZ plans, patients would be forced to drive hours away to access non-emergency services. This would delay care and lead to worse outcomes and sicker patient populations. Despite best intentions to maintain continuity of care for patients in active treatment, we also remain concerned that some patients may face challenges navigating their options to access needed care.

“We appreciate that the past few years have strained Arizona’s health care systems and that contract renewals are complex. The health and well-being of our Arizona communities, especially our rural communities, is a top priority for all involved. In accordance with all existing rules, regulations, and ethical guidelines, we respectfully urge both parties to extend negotiations and to allow impacted BCBSAZ patients to maintain in-network coverage at Yavapai.”

As of their efforts that finished late Tuesday night, the leaders of both entities state they are attempting to find a resolution and offering continued coverage during the negotiation period. No guarantee was given that a contract will be finalized, but leaders clearly expressed a desire to settle an issue that has left many people pondering how they will manage their health care if the contract is not extended.

The joint news release from Dignity Health YRMC, Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group and Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona states:

““It’s our mission to provide high-quality, compassionate and reliable health care services to our community,” said Dr. Anthony Torres, president and chief executive office of Dignity Health YRMC and YRMG. “We understand the magnitude of this responsibility, and remain hopeful that we will reach a resolution with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona that benefits those we serve right here in our community.”

“We know how important Yavapai Regional Medical Center is to our members and want a resolution so members can focus on what is important — their health and the health of their families,” said Pam Kehaly, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arizona. “Today’s conversations have brought us closer together and we remain hopeful that members can maintain both affordability and access to care.”

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