Friday, August 5, 2022

Blue Cross Fires Away at UMMC, Mississippi Today, & Supertalk

Blue Cross took off the gloves and put on the brass knuckles Wednesday in its court fight with UMMC.  The health insurer subpoenaed all communications between the hospital, Mississippi Today, and Supertalk FM Wednesday as it seeks to prove UMMC officials defamed Blue Cross.

Blue Cross sued UMMC's Vice-Chancellor Dr. Louann Woodward, Associate Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alan Jones, and Communications Director Marc Rolph for defamation in Rankin County Circuit Court last week.  

UMMC's contract with Blue Cross expired on April 1. UMMC is now out of network for Blue Cross patients.  UMMC geared up to wage a public relations war on the insurer in March.  JJ reported on July 25 UMMC spent nearly $300,000 as it blitzed Blue Cross with billboards, commercials, and digital media ads since March 15.  Earlier post with invoices. 

The ads claim Blue Cross kicked UMMC out of its network.  However, Blue Cross produced UMMC correspondence that stated on January 28, 2022 that don't exactly square with UMMC's messaging: 

 This letter serves as our notice of termination, effective 12pm on March 31, 2022 for the following contracts...
Blue Cross accused UMMC of refusing to provide services to Blue Cross members unless the insurer agreed to an immediate 30% increase in reimbursement rates.  

Blue Cross subpoenaed all communications between UMMC employees and/or consultants since July 1, 2021 regarding any content appearing on UMC websites, advertising, social media, and other forms of media related to the Blue Cross fight. 

The insurer also included communications between UMMC (including its consultants) and the Mississippi State Medical Association, Mississippi Hospital Association, and Mississippi Insurance Department.  

Consultants? Oh yes, those pesky consultants.  Blue Cross subpoenaed all documents that identify UMMC's consultants for the PR campaign. 

However, Blue Cross also subpoenaed all communications between UMMC, its consultants, and the media regarding Blue Cross or its members.  The subpoena specifically defined media to include "Mississippi Today and Kate Royals, and Supertalk Mississippi media" since July 1, 2021.   

The demand is certainly interesting.  Ms. Royals is one of the better reporters in Mississippi.  She once covered the education beat over at the Clarion-Ledger but had the good sense to jump off the sinking ship before it was too late.  She landed at where else but UMMC (Hey, this is Mississippi.). She worked in the communications department (JJ published several of her press releases) for awhile before returning to her true calling in journalism.  She is currently the healthcare writer at Mississippi Today. 

 

Ms. Royals and her colleagues at the digital newspaper have been covering the Blue Cross battle as it rages across Mississippi.   A substantial portion of the articles have been critical of Blue Cross, including some featuring a more personal angle among UMMC patients affected by the controversy.  MT is obviously using some really good sources to develop some of those stories (Journalism is all about sources, after all.).  Mississippi Today rarely disclosed the reporter's former position at the hospital but started doing so this week.  

UMMC purchased advertising (through an ad agency) on Mississippi Today's website and sponsors MT's podcast.  However, Mississippi Today posted a disclaimer stating the advertising did not affect editorial decisions.

Blue Cross is probably digging to see if there is any coordination between the hospital and the online newspaper or it could be trying to harass the two entities. The First Amendment fortunately protects Mississippi Today and Supertalk Mississippi from such subpoenas* but it provides no similar protection to UMMC. 

Stay tuned folks.  This war is going to the mattresses.

* Although RSS once tried to subpoena Jerry Mitchell.  

Note: Mattresses? Couldn't resist.


22 comments:

Anonymous said...

BCBS of MS is run by a bunch of goons. I was offered a position there one time, and they really thought they could offer that little of vacation time to someone with 15+ years of experience. The hiring manager told me that the CEO would have to approve a deviation of their vacation policy and a "match" of the vacation days I was receiving at my current employer and that the approval is rarely granted. I told them to kick rocks.

Anonymous said...

David Kaufman is an outstanding attorney and southern gentleman who should not be taken lightly. He does not suffer fools and represents his client's extremely well. He will be in his "warrior mode" for this one. This will be down right entertaining to watch.

Anonymous said...

While I do feel UMMC has a certain amount of responsibility, BCBSMS has no reason to go after anyone for defamation when they defame themselves everyday. I had a brief employment stint at BCBS, and while I rather enjoyed the opportunity to exercise on the clock, the executive suite was a den of vipers. The CEO and her minions will have a lot to answer for one of these days.

Anonymous said...

@9:49am - Thanks for stopping by, David.

Anonymous said...

A substantial portion of the articles have been critical of Blue Cross ...

Then ....

UMMC purchased advertising (through an ad agency) on Mississippi Today's website and sponsors MT's podcast. However, Mississippi Today posted a disclaimer stating the advertising did not affect editorial decisions.

Which is total bullshit.

UMMC Salutes Barksdales

The connections between the Barksdales and UMC/Ole Miss run as deep, probably deeper, as their connection to their personal attack media organ, Mississippi Today.

Any notion that Mississippi Today doesn't carry Barksdale water on a daily basis is absurd.

Anonymous said...

10:05, answer to whom?

Anonymous said...




MT wants to be for MS Democrats what Supertalk is for the MSGOP. MT's problem? 95% of the Democrats they dream to reach don't read 20,000 words in a month, let alone in one story.

Anonymous said...

how da hell can one defame a health insurance company like BCBS?
thats like john gotti and the gambino crime family crying ''we have been defamed''
BCBS has a virtual monopoly over health coverage in mississippi
and they have the entire mississippi legislature on their payroll.
they get away with their monopoly because federal law exempts insurance companies from federal anti-trust and unfair competition laws.
that leaves only the ms state dept of insurance to regulate them and thats like putting pee wee herman in the ring with mike tyson.
BCBS is running the biggest racket in mississippi's economic history and every politician from the governor on down is too chickenshit to do anything about it.

Anonymous said...

9:40, you must be some fine C-Suite material. I'm always shocked that people think its a good idea to negotiate down how much time they'll have to spend working, but are always baffled they're not at a higher level than they are. And you laugh at millennials...

Anonymous said...

10:15, I also worked there, and I'm going to say they'll have to answer to God. Maybe they'll have to answer to the parents or spouses of patients that died while awaiting approval for treatment or for playing God while dictating medical policy. Lot of stuff really. Of course, you're going to fire back that either you don't believe in God, or some type of snarky rebuttal.
I don't really care, ok?
The bottom line is the directors of a hospital and an insurance company are acting like asses and people can't get treatment.

Anonymous said...

MS BCBS would be better off not paying for ads and PR, but investing our premiums and giving us adequate coverage and firing those they hired to deny coverage that we end up getting once we do battle the denial because it was wrong from the "get go"!.

Anonymous said...

10:05...I'm not a lawyer but I know how to spot those who are considered the best in their profession given my relatives in the profession.
Kaufman has those.... start with Law Review and then American Colleges (which are the best in an area in law inviting the best ethically and in legal skill).

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is the directors of a hospital and an insurance company are acting like asses and people can't get treatment.

This. Both parties are pieces of shit for these stunts. And it's not the people actually working, it's the brass at the top. UMMC has some fantastic stff, LouAnn and co. are going to be the demise of that hospital. It Started with "Chancellor Jones" though.

Anonymous said...

@11:22am - Thanks for stopping by again, David.

Anonymous said...

@11:55 ditto it started with Chancellor Jones. Attention Dr Dan Jones: karma is a bitch. Dan Jones makes Machiavelli look like St Francis of Assisi. The only good thing he did as chancellor was getting rid of Colonel Reb. But when he was was at UMMC & his entire medical career? his legacy can best be described in a few words: ruthless, devoid of human decency, betrayal of moral standards, vindictive colleague, shitty business planner (practice plan anyone?), kind of doctor that didn’t really see patient unless a camera was around. and hiring dumb ass national consultants for boat loads of money to achieve nothing but a new sign on the side of the building . Dan and BCBS executives will have to answer to God like we all will. I hope they are ready.

Anonymous said...

No other jackson hospitals in BCBS network?

Macy Hanson said...

This is a business dispute; NOT a defamation case. Good grief. Power move by UMMC, in my opinion. Full disclosure: I am a laweyer being sued in FL for defamation by some telemarketers/their in-house "law firm" down there. SLAPP suits are no fun and should be punished severely.

I agree with the commenter who posted that Mississippi needs an anti-SLAPP statute with some teeth.

Anonymous said...

I would never hire anyone based on their participation on law review.

Footnotes do not mean much here in the real world.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi Today is propped up by wealthy liberals. They list their major donors on their website. It's eye opening. The Barksdales, The Creekmores(founders of CSpire) Kane Ditto, so called conservatives like Archie and Olivia Manning, Dick Molpus,and many other liberal organizations like the Ford Foundation.

Anonymous said...

BcBS thinks they are Trump Sue Sue , look at you not me !

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...

How in the heck could you say anything bad enough about an insurance company t Defame them?

I am confuzzled.

Anonymous said...

SuperTalk , Fox and Infowars are supported by lying crackpots


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