As the president and CEO of Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) as well as a longtime physician and resident of the Yavapai County community, I want to share an update on the negotiations between YRMC and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ).
For many months, YRMC has been negotiating with BCBSAZ in an effort to protect access to health care services for thousands of patients. As a not-for-profit health care organization, we rely on reimbursement from health plans to sustain essential medical care and community benefits. Unfortunately, BCBSAZ has been unwilling to agree to a new contract that would put patients and our community first.
We are disappointed that our efforts to engage in constructive, collaborative and transparent conversations with BCBSAZ to reach a fair and timely agreement have not been reciprocated. Our most recent offer made significant concessions and was well below our own inflation. BCBSAZ rejected it without even making a counter proposal. At this point, they don’t seem committed to reaching an agreement.
As a result, YRMC and BCBSAZ have not been able to come to a mutual agreement. Beginning February 8 at 5 p.m., YRMC is no longer considered part of the BCBSAZ network. Yavapai Regional Medical Group (YRMG) outpatient clinic services will remain in-network for patients who are members of BCBSAZ.
We know how important this is to our community. We committed to working around the clock to reach an agreement. Unfortunately, BCBSAZ has not shown that same urgency or commitment, or a willingness to compromise. As a result, costs will now be shifted by BCBSAZ to patients in the form of out-of-pocket costs and deductibles. Our patients and community deserve better.
Like many hospitals, our local hospital faces extreme financial challenges that are putting our services at risk. Because BCBSAZ was unwilling to come to an agreement, we are now facing a significant impact to the health of our community. In fact, this may:
- threaten our ability to continue providing essential care to patients in the coming years
- compromise our efforts to recruit and retain the nurses and doctors that care for our patients each day
- force Yavapai County residents to travel great distances to receive some forms of medical care
- limit our ability to expand community services, especially for those who are vulnerable
BCBSAZ recently attempted to publicly downplay the impact a contract termination would have on the community. At YRMC, we believe every patient matters and every patient should be financially protected by their health insurance plan. We do not underestimate our responsibility as the region’s high-quality health care provider and we believe in keeping care local.
YRMC has been providing health care in our community for nearly 80 years, and our patients are at the center of everything we do. This and the extraordinary close-knit community of Yavapai County are what drew me to move here in 2006. Since that time, I have made a commitment to be a faithful neighbor and doctor, putting our patients first.
As a medical provider and a resident of this great community, I am extremely concerned about BCBSAZ’s lack of interest to collaborate so that we could come to a reasonable agreement for the sake of our patients.
I recognize the inconvenience and stress this negotiation has caused for our patients with BCBSAZ coverage. Please know that it is our intent to continue our conversations with BCBSAZ and reach an agreement to make sure the health care services available in our community can continue for years to come.
For our patients with BCBSAZ who may have questions, I encourage you to visit yrmc.org/bcbsaz for more information.