Tulsa Patients Speak Out On Insurance Dispute

Tuesday, February 10th 2009, 6:22 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Patients are speaking out about the bitter contract dispute between a Tulsa hospital and an Oklahoma insurance provider. Hillcrest Medical Group says it will stop accepting Community Care insurance in a few weeks.

Thousands of people are trying to figure out what they'll do next.

"Care? You call that care? How about careless," said Holly Hulstine, Community Care Customer.

Holly Hulstine had planned on getting surgery in just a few weeks, but now she doesn't know what's going on.

"I don't have any money invested in this, but I've got my life invested. And that I can't replace," said Hulstine.

Hulstine knows firsthand. Even scheduling an appointment with a specialist takes several weeks. Hulstine's doctor told her it often takes more than a month to even schedule a surgery, but for thousands and thousands of patients, time's almost up.

"We have just reached a point where the cost of care at Hillcrest is significantly higher than the other facilities in the Tulsa market," said Richard Todd, Community Care CEO.

"To date, the proposals that they have offered have not been reasonable," said Stephanie Gibson, Hillcrest Administrator.

Hillcrest says they want bigger payouts to the hospital due to rising costs. They say the termination will affect 20,000 members.

2/9/2009  Related Story: Tulsa's Hillcrest At Odds With Community Care

Community Care says they'll increase the payouts to the physicians, but not the hospital. They report the termination will affect 10,000 members.

"Our primary concern in all of this is patient care. That's why we've been negotiating for months," said Richard Todd, Community Care CEO.

Both sides blame the economy.

Hulstine says she's sick of it. She says it's corporate greed at its worst and lives are on the line.

"In this economy, who wants more money? What about us? What about the patient? Can we care about the patient for a change instead of the almighty dollar," asked Hulstine.

Both sides say the lines of communication are still open, but constructive dialogue has broken down altogether.

Community Care Insurance is owned by St. John and St. Francis hospitals, but they say that relationship has no impact on reimbursement rates.