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Originally published Oct. 22, 2012 at 9:44 a.m., updated Oct. 22, 2012 at 1:37 p.m.
TOPEKA Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and St. Francis Health Center have reached an agreement that will keep the Topeka hospital and its affiliated facilities part of the insurer's network of health care providers, according to an email sent this morning to members of the State Employee Health Benefit Plan.
The plan covers most Kansas state employees and many local government workers.
"This new agreement means that St. Francis and St. Johns (in Leavenworth) will both be Network Providers for the BCBS network next year. BCBS will be sending out formal announcement letters to their current enrollees in the affected counties this week," the email stated.
This afternoon, the Blue Cross and hospital officials issued a joint press release on the agreement.
“We’ve worked hard to finalize the details of a new agreement that benefits plan members and patients and will further improve community health,” said Robert Erickson, St. Francis chief executive, in the release. “Both parties have a shared responsibility to provide convenient access to high-value, high-quality care. This has resulted in the right agreement for our patients, while ensuring St. Francis can continue to offer the highest level of services, physicians and facilities in the future.”
The status of the relationship between the state's largest private health insurer and one of the state's leading regional medical centers was put in question last week, after officials from both organizations said they could not reach agreement on reimbursement rates for services.
Blue Cross officials announced last Monday that St. Francis officials "have notified us that they will no longer contract with Blue Cross."
"Throughout our history, BCBSKS has contracted with health care providers as a way of controlling the cost of the health insurance premiums that our members pay. We believe in reimbursing health care providers fairly, but we must sometimes draw the line with providers to protect our members from increased cost."
St. Francis officials sent letters to patients last week warning that the hospital's relationship with Blue Cross could end, if the two parties didn't reach agreement on reimbursement rates. St. Francis officials said Blue Cross was proposing rates that would have jeopardized the hospital's ability to deliver good quality care.
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