HCA's Tennessee hospitals and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee reached a 30-month contract, effective April 1, ending a yearlong standoff that spilled into the state Legislature last year. The contract adds 11 HCA hospitals and other sites to the health plan's network for it 1.8 million commercial members. No other terms were disclosed. The Tennessee Blues, based in Chattanooga, fought a package of bills introduced last year that would distribute some of its cash reserves to hospitals and weaken its negotiating position relative to HCA. The health plan's reserves totaled $720 million at the end of 2002, the most recent information available. Nashville-based HCA, the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Hospital Alliance of Tennessee all supported the bills. A compromise measure, signed into law last year, does not touch the health plan's reserves; however, it does extend regulations governing health insurers and not-for-profit boards to the Tennessee Blues and sets up a state review process should the insurer seek to convert to for-profit status, said Bill Steverson, a Tennessee Blues spokesman. The insurer has no plans to convert, Steverson said. -- by Vince Galloro
HCA, Tenn. Blues call truce in yearlong war
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