I’ll give you a second to catch your breath. According to The Providence Journal, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island CEO James Purcell will ask the state to approve premium rate increases* in May, citing rising costs and increased use. But that new office building downtown? Nope, that was a cost-saving measure.
Purcell said financial analysts determined it would be cheaper in the long term to have everyone working in one location.
Purcell takes hospitals to task for the reimbursement increases, that they negotiated for in 2009, “‘Hospital CEOs need to understand that this is a different environment,” he said’. That sound you hear is emergency room doors slamming shut. (Mr. Purcell, you may need one of these some day.)
The state’s referee? gatekeeper? brake pad? in these matters is supposed to be the Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner. But what good is it to knock down the requested rate increase in March, only to have a new request for double-digit increases two months later? The value of this agency eludes me completely. And it seems certain that a few more employers will be dropping the Blue Cross program altogether.
*This request is for large and small group rates. Direct payers have had at least five rate hikes in as many years.