KINGSTON – Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach called on both sides in the dispute over health insurance coverage for thousands who have Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and seek medical attention at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley hospitals in Kingston come to a “prompt resolution to the contract dispute.”
The insurance company placed the hospitals out-of-network when their current contract expired, meaning Blue Cross Blue Shield will not accept insurance claims for non-emergencies presented at the hospital.
‘Requiring Ulster County residents to drive upwards of an hour to Dutchess County or Albany for quality health care, pay greater out-of-pocket costs, or – even worse – forego treatment is unconscionable, plain and simple,” Auerbach said on Thursday. “I’m not sure who comes out to be the clear winner in this, but I certainly see who the losers are. The losers are the thousands of people in Ulster County and the tens of thousands of people in the Hudson Valley area that are faced with the dilemma if this doesn’t get resolved soon.”
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and Senator George Amedore have sponsored a state proposal that would extend the expired agreement for an extra 90 days while Empire and HealthAlliance negotiate with a third-party mediator.
The bill has already passed the Assembly Insurance and Codes Committees, and is expected to make its way to the floor for a vote before the end of the legislative session.
Last week, County Executive Michael Hein called for a 90-day cooling off period to give both parties time to sit down and work out a resolution.