NY hospital patients rally over reimbursement 'battle' with Empire BCBS

Patients, volunteers and healthcare professionals are scheduled to rally June 21 in a "battle" with Empire BlueCross BlueShield over "equitable reimbursement" for Oceanside, N.Y.-based South Nassau Communities Hospital, according to the supporters.

Empire notified SNCH patients in a May 15 letter they may face higher out-of-pocket charges for nonemergent services at the nonprofit hospital if the companies cannot negotiate a new in-network contract by July 1, according to liherald.com. Richard Murphy, president and CEO of SNCH, previously said Empire has been "shortchanging" the hospital for years. He claims Empire reimbursed the hospital at rates up to 40 percent lower than nearby hospitals for the same treatment.

Empire, an Anthem subsidiary, told liherald.com: "Our consumers are our number one priority. There is no immediate change to healthcare coverage for our consumers as we are continuing to negotiate to reach an agreement that would enable [South Nassau] to remain part of [our] care provider network and protects affordability for our consumers."

As negotiations continue to stall, patients and hospital supporters are rallying to seek "parity with the amount of reimbursement Blue Cross currently provides to other hospitals in Nassau County," according to a press release.

The organizers predict tens of thousands of individuals would lose in-network access to South Nassau Communities Hospital should the contract lapse.

The contract between the hospital and Empire expired May 1. However, a "cooling off" period, set to close July 1, allows Empire members to remain in-network at the hospital for the time being.

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