Sinema Leads Sen. Kelly, Rep. Crane in Bipartisan Letter Standing Up For Rural Patients’ Health Care

Jan 31, 2023

The bipartisan delegation encouraged Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona and Dignity Health to continue good-faith negotiations and maintain current coverage for enrollees until negotiations are concluded

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema led Democratic Senator Mark Kelly and Republican Representative Eli Crane (AZ-02) in urging Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona (BCBSAZ) and Dignity Health’s Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Yavapai Regional Medical Group to continue current contract negotiations and maintain coverage for all impacted enrollees until negotiations are concluded.
Both parties recently sent notices to impacted patients that, if negotiations weren’t successful, Yavapai Regional Medical Center would be considered out-of-network for thousands of impacted BCBSAZ enrollees, all of whom live in rural areas, beginning February 1, 2023.
“If Yavapai Regional Medical Center were no longer covered under impacted BCBSAZ plans, it would force patients to drive hours away to access non-emergency services. This would delay care and lead to worse outcomes and sicker patient populations. Despite best intentions to maintain continuity of care for patients in active treatment, we also remain concerned that some patients will be unable to navigate their options to get care,” wrote the lawmakers.
In addition to leading a bipartisan letter, Sinema personally called BCBSAZ President Pam Kehaly and Dignity Health interim President Tim Bricker to encourage both parties to stay at the negotiating table and allow current coverages while talks continue.
In August 2020, Dignity Health affiliated with Yavapai Regional Medical Center to better provide accessible, affordable, and innovative health care services to Arizonans in rural and remote areas. While patients undergoing active treatment at Yavapai will be considered ‘in-network’ for the duration of their care, other patients who had scheduled, non-emergency procedures for after February 1st would be considered out-of-network and could face higher out-of-pocket costs. Impacted BCBSAZ patients would still be able to see primary care providers at Dignity’s larger provider network and through Yavapai’s community health clinics, but it would force many patients to drive at least an hour away to receive in-network inpatient hospital services.
Sinema and her colleagues’ letter encourages both parties to extend negotiations and to allow impacted BCBSAZ patients to receive in-network coverage at Yavapai Regional Medical Center until a solution is reached.
Click HERE to read the lawmakers’ letter.