Stillwater Medical, BCBSOK Reach Agreement
Ponca City Now-Rep. John Talley - September 25, 2023 6:54 am
Oklahoma Representative John Talley-District 33.
I wanted to make sure you heard the good news that Stillwater Medical Center and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma have reached an agreement, and Stillwater Medical is once again in network for BCBSOK.
Stillwater Medical’s previous contract with BCBSOK expired at the end of 2022 and they have been in negotiations for months. Numerous constituents reached out to me during that time to share how this was impacting them personally and to express their concerns of what could happen if no agreement was reached. The issue stemmed from rate increases from BCBSOK that were not shared with providers, despite operational costs for healthcare facilities increasing dramatically in recent years due to the pandemic.
When the rates received from insurance companies do not keep up with increases to operational costs, hospitals are put at risk of closing, which threatens the wellbeing of the whole community.
Thankfully, both parties managed to reach an agreement. The new contract is for three years, keeping BCBSOK in network for Stillwater Medical through Dec. 31, 2026.
Patients with BCBSOK can continue to receive quality care from the doctors and professionals they know and trust at Stillwater Medical campuses in Stillwater, Blackwell and Perry.
The agreement does have some changes. Under the new contract, Stillwater Medical will no longer participate in BCBSOK’s Blue Preferred PPO network, beginning Jan. 1, 2024. However, Blue Traditional and Blue Choice PPO plans will continue to be in-network. Stillwater Medical recommends that patients with a Blue Preferred PPO plan should contact their benefits administrator for more information about how to continue accessing in-network care at Stillwater Medical.
You can find more information at bcbsok.com/Stillwater or stillwater-medical.org/current-situation. BCBSOK advises members with questions about benefit coverage or in-network providers to call the number on the back of their member ID card or visit bcbsok.com.
I also want to share information regarding the public comment period for a proposal from the Oklahoma Broadband Office (OBO), which was created by the Legislature last year to administer federal grant programs in efforts to make affordable internet available to all Oklahomans. Reliable, high-speed internet is essential in today’s online-focused society, as we quickly learned during the work-from-home and online schooling portion of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Even farmers and ranchers are utilizing more and more technology that needs a reliable internet connection.
Oklahoma has been allocated $797.4 million for BEAD, the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment, grant program. The BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 1 would use these grants for high-speed internet expansion.
The proposal is available to view at oklahoma.gov/broadband. This website also has the current list of Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs), which consists of locations like libraries, community centers and other public entities that offer high-speed internet to Oklahomans.
Comments or suggested revisions to the BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 1 and corrections or additions to the CAI list can be submitted via email to [email protected].
OBO previously conducted a 19-stop listening tour earlier this year to gather public input, and they visited Stillwater a few months ago. Starting next month, they will begin another 10-stop informational tour as they continue to gather input from citizens and collaborate with stakeholders. I look forward to seeing what progress OBO is able to make toward making broadband accessible in every corner of the state thanks to these federal funds.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me at 405-557-7304 or john.tal[email protected]. It’s an honor to serve House District 33!
Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.