Contract Dispute Between California Hospital and Insurer Disrupts Care for Hmong Immigrant Children, Parents Say
A dispute between Children's Hospital Central California and Anthem Blue Cross has caused Hmong immigrant children enrolled in government health insurance programs in Fresno County, Calif., to face long waits for specialists and to travel to other cities to seek care, dozens of parents testified on Tuesday at a county Board of Supervisor's meeting, the Fresno Bee reports. The contract between Children's and Blue Cross ended Aug. 1, when the two parties could not agree on payment levels for children enrolled in Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- and Healthy Families -- the state's version of SCHIP.
Gia Xiong of the Center for New Americans said some parents have been told to take their children to San Francisco to seek care, adding, "The reality is, a newly arrived refugee has no idea where San Francisco is or where the hospital is." At the meeting, supervisors said Blue Cross is responsible for not providing the children with accessible care. Supervisors directed the county's health director, Edward Moreno, to begin to develop a list of steps the county could take to ensure the children have access to care. Supervisors also called for a legislative hearing to discuss the contract dispute.
According to the Bee, the county's ability to resolve the matter is "unclear." Stan Rosenstein, chief deputy director of the California Department of Health Care Services, said it is the state's responsibility to address the issue. Julie Hornback, director of the county's Employment and Temporary Assistance Department, said the county is not involved in confidential negotiations between hospitals and insurers.
Talks between Blue Cross and the hospital are ongoing, the Bee reports. Leslie Porras, a spokesperson for Blue Cross, said that negotiations are "very positive" and that the company is "hopeful that we can reach an agreement here soon" (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 5/6).