Mission Health CEO calls BCBS 'unethical, bullying foe' in internal email to senior leadership

The CEO of Asheville, N.C.-based Mission Health System called Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina "the most unethical, bullying foe that I have ever faced" in an email to senior employees obtained by Citizen-Times.

Mission Health's contract with Durham-based BCBSNC expired Oct. 5 following a monthslong feud. Mission Health President and CEO Ronald Paulus, MD, wrote in an Oct. 4 email to roughly 60 senior employees, "When leaders from across North Carolina and beyond called to 'warn me about what Blue Cross would do,' I listened carefully but was skeptical." The approximately 600-word private email accused BCBS of lying to its clients. Dr. Paulus wrote, "I didn't think that was possible from a multibillion dollar company, but alas it was and it is."

The Citizen-Times obtained the letter the night before the contract expired. Dr. Paulus said the email was not intended for the public or BCBS. He told the publication Wednesday the email "was a message to core team members that had been through the equivalent of a battle and who I felt needed for me to be clear of my support for them, my willingness to stand with them and my willingness to sacrifice or be sacrificed for them."

On Thursday, BCBSNC requested Mission Health retract the "defamatory and inflammatory" comments presented in Dr. Paulus' email. The payer told Citizen-Times the message "deepens our concerns and dampens our hope" for a new deal.

The expired contract left roughly 260,000 BCBSNC policyholders to face out-of-network rates for Mission Health services. In September, Dr. Paulus said he does not expect a compromise with BCBSNC until 2018.

For the full Citizen-Times article, click here.
Access more information about the Mission Health-BCBSNC split here.  

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