Health Care

How Piedmont’s dispute with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia impacts Columbus

A potential contract dispute between Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia has created some confusion in the Columbus market, according to a Piedmont spokesperson.

Columbus Regional Healthcare went under Piedmont control on March 1, just as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia was notifying those it insures that the Piedmont agreement expires on April 1 and there is not a new deal to provide services for Piedmont’s hospitals and physicians.

The former Midtown Medical Center and Northside Hospital on Veterans Parkway are now under the Piedmont umbrella.

“To be clear, regardless of what happens with the contract negotiations between Piedmont and Anthem Blue Cross, Piedmont Columbus Regional will remain in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia,” an email sent to Piedmont’s Columbus employees Thursday afternoon stated.

The reason there is no immediate impact is because Columbus Regional was under contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia before the merger and will continue to be so through November 2019, said Elisabeth Wang, executive director, Communications and Public Relations for Piedmont Healthcare.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield did not respond to an email request for comment.

At the center of the confusion is the contract dispute between Piedmont, which owns and operates 10 Georgia hospitals, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia insures state workers, those in the University System of Georgia, including Columbus State, and even the employees of Columbus Regional.

Another recent acquisition, Piedmont Rockdale Hospital, is also not impacted by the current negotiations with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, according to a letter sent out by the insurer and dated Feb. 26. At the time the letter was dated, Columbus Regional had not yet joined Piedmont.

The contract is set to expire on March 31.

“The contract negotiations are for a new contract for patients who have Anthem Blue Cross commercial (employer-sponsored and non-employer-sponsored individual/family) health plans,” the Piedmont email to Columbus employees stated. “The contract does not impact Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Advantage plans.”

Piedmont is working to secure a new deal with the insurer, according to the health care company’s official statement.

“We have a long history of partnering with Anthem Blue Cross to maintain the critical relationship between patient and physician, and both organizations continue to work to that end,” it read. “Because situations like this can change quickly, we’ve created a dedicated website to keep the public updated on our progress. Go to KeepPiedmont.org for the latest information.”

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams

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