Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi said Thursday they are suing three University of Mississippi Medical Center employees for allegedly spreading false information.
The lawsuit is the latest development in a dispute between the state’s largest health insurance provider and the hospital that surfaced in March when the two sides failed to agree on the amount that the insurer would pay for patient care.
At the time, the insurer said it had been working with the medical center to renew the contract with network hospitals since early 2021, but UMMC was demanding significant payout increases. The medical center said it is applying to be funded at the level of comparable academic medical centers in other regional cities.
UMMC is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, filed in Rankin County, because it enjoys immunity for defamation by its employees as a political subdivision of the state under Mississippi law. , according to a press release from the insurer announcing the lawsuit. But, the employees – Dr. LouAnn Woodward, Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs; Dr. Alan Jones, Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs; and Marc Rolph, executive director of communications and marketing – do not have those guarantees, the insurer said.
In the lawsuit, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi alleges public statements by employees gave the impression that the insurer removed UMMC from its network of health care providers when the insurer said it was UMMC that had terminated its agreements with the insurer, WJTV reported.
The complaint alleges that the public statements damaged the insurer’s reputation and were made to “coerce Blue Cross & Blue Shield into entering into new contracts for the benefit of UMMC and defendants’ personal positions with UMMC. “. The provider said the defendants’ actions also caused “unnecessary anxiety, confusion and fear” among its members regarding their health care, according to the statement.
“When UMMC elected to no longer be a network provider, Blue Cross & Blue Shield made it clear that they would continue to pay network-level benefits for covered medical services,” the company said.
Rolph declined to comment when asked for a statement from UMMC on the lawsuit.
Photo: University of Mississippi Medical Center Complex in Jackson. (UMC)
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