MHTC concerns continue to grow

The Memorial Hospital of Texas County’s Board of Control will meet tonight, with plenty on its plate. Many throughout the community have a growing concern for the possible lease/management options the hospital is currently facing.With Northwest Texas Healthcare System and Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital of Amarillo both interested in possibly joining forces with MHTC, issues are being raised regarding insurance protocols. Vicki Ayers McCune said her staff conducted a survey just last week of PREDCI members. The concern? NWTHS is not a Blue Cross Blue Shield in-network hospital, BSA is.“Northwest is not providers for Blue Cross Blue Shield,” McCune said. “BSA is the exclusive provider for Blue Cross Blue Shield. “My staff, through PREDCI, did a survey (last week), but all of our major employers – the ones we were able to get in touch with – 75 percent of Texas County population have BSA as their in-network provider, versus 25 percent being able to use either one,” she explained. “That includes all the Blue Cross Blue Shield which there are about 4,300 families, just in the ones we checked – that doesn’t include the local mom and pop shops. We are talking about Seaboard, Walmart, OPSU, all the Texas County employees and all the state employees in the area. There are also two other groups that have BSA as their sole in-network provider, that is Caliber, which Bank of the Panhandle and some others fall under, and Health Choice, which all the schools fall under. We are talking 75 to 80 percent of our entire population that has BSA as an in-network and are out of network with Northwest.”Board of Control Chairman Buddy Holbert understood the concern voiced by McCune and PREDCI. He said, however, there is no need to worry.“It’s not a problem at all, and here is the reason why – Northwest did not present a lease proposal, they presented a management proposal,” Holbert said. “Nothing changes. You and your doctor still have the choice between BSA or Northwest or Integris or Mercy or any other hospital in the free world. “If at some point and time that we do a lease whether it be with BSA or Noble or Bautista or Northwest, if they were to lease it, the only way that we would lease it is if they become Oklahoma Health Choice and Blue Cross Blue Shield providers,” he explained. “They have to cover everything that we currently cover.”Holbert said he is concerned the public feels a decision regarding a management/lease option will be made tonight. He said this is not the case, for several reasons – one being Noble Healthcare is scheduled to make a proposal to the board at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, and Dr. Martin Bautista will approach the board at 7 p.m. on Thursday.“People have the misconception that (tonight) we are going to lease the hospital,” he said. “You don’t just lease the hospital, you don’t just sign a management agreement, all of these things are in the very beginning stages. “A lease would take months to iron out any or all of the details – if we were even able to get there,” he continued. “The management deal, we are 45 to 60 days out from having our attorneys, having the proper personnel review any contract.”Holbert added nothing is “set in stone,” and all communications at this point in regards to management/leasing options are just “a beginning of a dialogue.”The Board of Control will meet at 6 p.m. tonight, all meetings are open to the public.