By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Business Group on Health, a coalition of more than 70 employers with more than 50,000 employees, has inserted itself into the ongoing conflict and negotiations between Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Landmark Medical Center and its pending buyer, Steward Health Care.
Currently, future contract negotiations are at an impasse. The existing contract expired on July 16, and beginning as of Aug. 1, Blue Cross has sought to remove Landmark from its provider network. The issue whether or not to approve Blue Cross’s dropping of Landmark is now before R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Michael Fine, who must approve such a change.
RIGBH offered the following considerations regarding the contract negotiations:
The group’s release said that using health care dollars to “essentially conduct negotiations in the media and through advertising/public relations is not the way to move toward a successful conclusion nor is it the way to spend health care dollars appropriately.”
“The ability to create and maintain a ‘right-sized’ health care system that can deliver quality, affordable care is in the interest of all Rhode Islanders,” said RIBGH President Don Nokes. “A partnership between all stakeholders – individuals, businesses, regulators, legislators, caregivers and insurance carriers – is fundamental to this end.” At the same time, he added, all stakeholders must be open to new ideas and competition in health care.”