Texas Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas Find Themselves in Another Contract Dispute

A little more than a year after Texas Health Resources and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas ended a contract impasse in the final hour, the two sides again find themselves in a dispute.

The current contract between the two parties runs through March 31. If they aren’t able to reach a new agreement by then, Texas Health care sites will be out of network for BCBSTX plan holders.

The BCBSTX side of the equation says negotiations are hung up on what they classify as $1 billion in increased payments over the life of a four-year contract, as well as “the ability to dictate to local businesses how they design their benefit plans,” according to BCBSTX market president Dr. Paul Hain.

Texas Health Resources takes issue with the way Blue Cross Blue Shield has classified the hang-ups.

“We are disappointed in how Blue Cross is representing our ongoing discussions to date,” the Arlington-based system said in an emailed statement. “How they have chosen to position their public comments is unfortunate, but not surprising.  Their inaccurate and misleading claims are polarizing and distracting everyone from the mission at hand, which is about our organizations coming together to ensure uninterrupted care for thousands of North Texans. We remain optimistic and focused on reaching a fair agreement that is in the best interest of our patients, providers and employers.”

For his part, Hain said that he’s still “hopeful” a deal will come together.

“To us, we need to be very good stewards of our clients’ resources knowing that a billion-dollar increase in payments to THR is paid for mostly on the backs of local businesses,” he said.

Texas Health and BCBSTX signed their previous contract in the final week of 2016, inking just two days before it was set to expire. The Arlington-based health system had requested a 5 percent increase of about $56 million during those talks, although the two sides didn’t release final details.