Two health care giants are in a contract dispute. This Austin family is caught in the middle.


Jan. 3 was a bizarre day for Leslie McGuinness-Monclova, a guardian and UT Austin worker.

Her dad reached out to her and mentioned he noticed her on TV. A pal did, too.

She was on a testimonial commercial for Dell Youngsters’s Medical Heart, the place her son, Tavi, had obtained life-saving therapy for anemia over the past couple years. Within the 30-second spot, she speaks to the standard of care her son obtained. Tavi beams on the finish, “My physician is one of the best!”

Hours later, McGuinness-Monclova obtained an electronic mail from Ascension, the hospital community that runs Dell Youngsters’s, saying she might have to seek out her son — a literal poster youngster for the hospital, she jokes — a brand new well being care supplier.

A screenshot of the Dell Youngsters’s commercial that featured Leslie McGuinness-Monclova and her youngsters.

McGuinness-Monclova is one in every of 1000’s of Central Texans who’re not sure of their well being care choices as Ascension renegotiates its contract for well being care funds with Blue Cross Blue Defend of Texas, the state’s largest insurer. If they do not attain a deal by the top of the month, no less than 66,000 prospects might must pay extra out of pocket for specialised care. Many have been pissed off by the dearth of communication about what is going on to occur subsequent.

Days after getting that electronic mail, McGuinness-Monclova mentioned the TV spot that includes her son was changed with a special one. She mentioned she did the advertisements “in good religion,” due to the extent of care medical doctors took serving to her son along with his uncommon type of anemia, a situation wherein an individual’s immune system assaults their pink blood cells.

“Dell Youngsters’s is just in Austin,” she mentioned. “And we’re not going to have the ability to make the most of Dell Youngsters’s if this coverage involves go and they’re not in community.”

McGuinness-Monclova mentioned she understands these negotiations are pretty widespread, however the lack of know-how from UT, her employer, and H-E-B, her husband’s employer which additionally makes use of Blue Cross Blue Defend (BCBS), is irritating.

If the negotiations fail, she might must go so far as Temple or Houston for Tavi’s checkups.

Neither Blue Cross Blue Defend nor Ascension would make anybody out there to talk to KUT concerning the course of or sufferers’ considerations for this story.

Ascension mentioned in a press release, “and not using a dedication to affordable phrases, our present settlement with BCBSTX will finish” after this month. All informed, Ascension runs UT Dell Medical Heart, Ascension Seton Medical Heart and dozens of clinics throughout Central Texas — 54 amenities, by its rely.

BCBS mentioned it’s “negotiating in good religion and dedicated to reaching an settlement that may proceed to offer BCBSTX members entry to Ascension amenities at a good worth.”

Continuity of care

It’s necessary to notice, that not each a type of 66,000 Blue Cross prospects (or their dependents) can be out of community on Feb. 1.

Jolie Sanchez, a affected person advocate who helps folks navigate well being care plans and insurance coverage insurance policies, says Texas’ so-called continuity of care legal guidelines require an insurer or a hospital to maintain a affected person in community in the event that they’re present process life-saving therapy.

“Ascension has mentioned that in the event that they’re at present in therapy for something, for being pregnant, some life-threatening sicknesses,” she mentioned, “they’ll proceed their care by Seton, and in the event that they’re mid-treatment, they won’t be kicked out of the system.”

“I fear if this deal will not be reached, there’s going to be lots of people stunned by this.”

Jolie Sanchez, affected person advocate

If a affected person is at 24 weeks of being pregnant and their OBGYN is at an Ascension facility, the affected person will probably be coated by supply all through post-partum care and the six-week checkup.

Sufferers with an acute situation, a incapacity or a life-threatening sickness, like most cancers, will not be dropped from their therapy instantly within the occasion Blue Cross and Ascension can’t attain an settlement.

Blue Cross has mentioned repeatedly that it doesn’t invoice for trauma care, and that prospects can get emergency care coated, even when it is at an out-of-network hospital.

However Sanchez is worried the shift will nonetheless affect care, as Ascension hospitals present the very best stage of care in Central Texas for issues that aren’t essentially emergency care.

“Seton is the one stage one trauma heart, after which Dell Youngsters’s is clearly one of the best youngsters’s hospital in Central Texas,” she mentioned. “And so many individuals rely on that and their specialists.”

And, Sanchez mentioned, it’s attainable some BCBS prospects might get kicked out of community. If that is the case, she mentioned they might must attraction that call by their insurer. A perennial downside she faces is that folks don’t typically take note of their insurance coverage till their protection adjustments — typically drastically.

“I fear if this deal will not be reached, there’s going to be lots of people stunned by this,” she mentioned. “So … I am hoping persons are beginning to to concentrate to this.”

Sanchez urges prospects underneath Blue Cross Blue Defend to achieve out to their insurer to find out whether or not that’s a risk.

Behind closed doorways

McGuinness-Monclova mentioned she does not know if Tavi’s care would or would not qualify underneath continuity of care legal guidelines. Tavi’s receiving therapy that’s life-saving, but it surely’s not emergency care. She fears she’d must pay out of pocket for checkups with a hematologist.

McGuinness-Monclova mentioned she’s totally ready to make the trek to Houston’s Texas Youngsters’s Hospital, moderately than spend 1000’s on out-of-network protection.

Whereas she understands these negotiations typically happen behind closed doorways, she says Ascension’s dealing with of this implies “the left hand doesn’t know what the correct hand is doing,” she mentioned.

“It does not look like it has something to do with well being care and other people, and I believed well being care is people-centered.”


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