Blue Cross Blue Shield Hosts Town Hall in Omaha

The next chapter in the ongoing negotiations between a major Omaha insurance and health care provider unfolds.

At the Embassy Suits in downtown Omaha Thursday night, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska hosted one of several town hall meetings planned throughout the state. What BCBS executives told WOWT 6 News is that contract negotiations boil down to health care costs getting too high.

“Over time Alegent Creighton facilities here in Omaha and their physicians have just gotten well above the market, today they are 10 to 30% above where other providers in the city are,” Lee Handke, Sr. V.P. of Network Services within BCBS of Nebraska said. Handke said his company is hemorrhaging $60 M in excess costs.

We also heard from the average attendee who told us they are afraid of falling through the cracks during this process.

The latest response from Alegent Creighton Health and UniNet: “We actually believe this is about the physician rates, which they have been vocal in their complaint about all along. UniNet offered to freeze physician rates, UniNet offered to extend the existing contract so that a new agreement could be worked out, but blue cross blue shield chose to terminate the agreement.”

One aspect that is under concern is mental healthcare in Omaha. Handke said Alegent Creighton Health is a major provider of mental health coverage in Omaha, specifically with Lasting Hope Recovery Center. Handke told WOWT 6 News there are talks to make a separate, direct agreement to maintain mental health coverage.

WOWT 6 News was told BCBS of Nebraska and Alegent Creighton Health were meeting at the negotiation table two to three times a week.

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