If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Special to The News-Courier—
KNOX CITY—Knox County Hospital administrator Stephen Kuehler indicated that all federal and state employees and retirees who have health insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas were notified that the hospital would continue to provide treatment services to them and their family members despite the BCBS notification from Blue Cross Blue Shield that the hospital was being dropped from its network.
“We will not treat the citizens of Knox County the way Blue Cross is treating us,” Kuehler said in a letter to residents with BCBS plans.
“This hospital has been providing care for our community for more than 90 years and we will continue to do so. I want to assure all government employees and retirees that we will provide all necessary treatment regardless of what Blue Cross chooses to do.”
In the notification from BCBS, customers were directed to two other hospitals for preferred network coverage: Haskell Memorial Hospital, about 20 miles away in Haskell, and Stonewall Memorial Hospital, about 40 miles from Knox City in Aspermont.
“The Knox County Hospital is the only hospital in the county and those citizens receiving healthcare coverage through government plans were notified last week – the day after the enrollment period had ended for the upcoming year – that Blue Cross would drop the Knox County Hospital from its network,” according to a statement from the hospital district.
“Notifying our citizens the day after the enrollment period ended was a callous, calculated decision made to create as much pain and suffering as possible for Blue Cross customers and this hospital,” Kuehler said.
Kuehler indicated that hospital attorneys had been negotiating with BCBS to extend its current contract after BCBS provided it with notice that it intended to drop the hospital from its network. He added the hospital learned of the latest BCBS action only when he was contacted by upset Knox County residents.
“I certainly expect the state of Texas to intervene, because BCBS has promised to provide insurance coverage in all 254 Texas counties as part of its contract with the state,” Kuehler said. “The state has an obligation to ensure that all citizens have equal access to health care.”.
“This hospital is not going to be bullied by Blue Cross. We may be a small provider, but we take our responsibility to the citizens of Knox County very serious. We’re used to being treated poorly by this company, but now they want to punish everyone who lives in this county.”
A day after open enrollment ended, current and retired state and federal employees in Knox County received notice that the county’s only hospital no longer will be in the preferred network for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.
The notification stated: “We want to inform you that Knox County Hospital will no longer participate in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan Preferred network after January 16, 2020.”
James Campbell, senior manager of communications for BCBS of Texas, sent the following statement to the Wichita Falls Times Record News earlier this week:
“On Jan. 16, 2020, Knox County Hospital will no longer be in our provider networks.
“This impacts the following networks:
• Blue Choice PPOSM
• Blue EssentialsSM
• Blue Advantage HMOSM
“We will do all we can to help members transition their care to quality, convenient in-network healthcare facilities. Members being treated for a pregnancy, disability, acute condition or life-threatening illness may have continuity of care benefits. This means they may still be able to see their current doctor at Knox County Hospital for a limited time after the hospital goes out of network.
“Benefits for continuity of care are applied based on benefit plans. Members can call the number on their ID card for more information.”
(See Letter to Editor, pg. 2)