Minnesota hospitals challenge Blue Cross payment changes

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The Minnesota Hospital Association opposes a new payment system at Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota scheduled to take effect May 1, according to a news release. The change would affect dozens of medical centers, including Cook County North Shore Hospital in Grand Marais and Tri-County Health Care in Wadena.

The trade group accuses the state’s largest insurer of slashing its reimbursement rates that would leave rural hospitals awash in red ink.

"Our new payment approach is a less arbitrary and more transparent way to pay hospitals based on the specific needs of the people they treat," Blue Cross said in a statement to the Pioneer Press. "At a time when escalating hospital prices are of great concern to consumers and employers alike, we believe it's important for Blue Cross to move forward with these efforts."

Lawrence Massa, President and CEO of the association, told Minnesota Public Radio, "They have huge market share in greater Minnesota for commercial products, and if there are going to be issues between Blue Cross and rural hospitals it's going to have some access problems for many communities and I don't think that's what either side wants to happen."

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