California Contract Dispute Between Hospital, Insurer Resolved, Restoring Many Hmong Immigrant Children’s Access to CareChildren's Hospital Central California and Anthem Blue Cross on Thursday settled a dispute that had forced many low-income Southeast Asian refugees enrolled in government health insurance programs to seek care in other cities, the Fresno Bee reports. The facility is the only children's hospital between Los Angeles and San Francisco (Correa, Fresno Bee, 5/29).
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. As a result of the disagreement, many Hmong immigrant children enrolled in the government health insurance programs in Fresno County, Calif., faced long waits for specialists and had to travel to other cities to seek care, dozens of parents testified earlier this month at a county Board of Supervisor's meeting.
At the meeting, supervisors said Blue Cross is at fault 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 (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 5/8).
A new two-year contract will allow about 25,000 low-income children to use the hospital as soon as Sunday, according to the Bee. William Haug, president and CEO of Children's, would not disclose the details of the contract but said, "[W]e have more favorable rates than we had previously." He added, "We just couldn't accept where they (Blue Cross) were originally. It just took a great deal of discussion, dialogue, give and take on both sides to reach a favorable result" (Fresno Bee, 5/29). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.