AMORY, Miss. (WTVA) — People gathered at Gilmore Memorial Regional Medical Center Thursday to show their support for the hospital in its dispute with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi.
The hospital is owned by Health Management Associates, and the insurer sent letters to 10 HMA hospitals in Mississippi after HMA filed a lawsuit against the insurer.
In its lawsuit, HMA accuses Blue Cross of underpaying $17 million for procedures.
One week after the lawsuit was filed, Blue Cross announced it was dropping HMA from its network when the contract expired.
HMA says Blue Cross refuses to negotiate — a move that will leave scores of Mississippians without hospital care when and where they need it.
"It's time for Blue Cross to step forward and act like the dominant insurance company they are and come to the table and let's solve this for the health of all Mississippians," said Dr. Joe Bailey, a Gilmore physician.
"Blue Cross Blue Shield has made a serious mistake," said state Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory. "They need to reconsider their position, and they need to do what's right by their policyholders."
In a statement released by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi, the insurer says the rally was part of HMA's continuing efforts to distract the public from the real issue.
According to Blue Cross, HMA hospitals charge their patients significantly more than other network hospitals charge their patients, in some cases more than double.
The insurer accuses HMA of suing to be paid more instead of charging patients less.