Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Willis-Knighton Health System responds to City of Shreveport news release

by BIZ Magazine

In response to the City of Shreveport’s news release regarding the City’s proposed health plan changes, Willis-Knighton would also like to clear up allegations of false information.

An email sent to Willis-Knighton and City representatives by the City’s advisor, Gallagher Benefits Services, on March 22, 2022, stated: “Per Administration’s instructions, this will all be done without a formal RFP.” However, at the City Council meeting on August 23, City officials stated that employee/retiree insurance options for 2023 had gone through a formal RFP process. Those officials indicated that an RFP was sent to Aetna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. This was surprising to us because this was not received by Willis-Knighton, and our insurance partner, Aetna, indicates they never received a formal RFP.

The City’s news release stated that Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s plan was “$1.6 million less than what was offered by Aetna.” Because the City did not follow its own formal RFP processes (which require written instructions to bidders), there was no way to be confident that the same information was provided to or requested from both insurers. The City’s RFP process was put in place to assure transparency and fair competition in the marketplace. Therefore, without following the City’s RFP bid process, there was no way to accurately compare the two insurance proposals to determine which was better.

To be clear, Willis-Knighton has not asked for special treatment. We advocate that all local providers (Willis-Knighton, Christus, Ochsner/LSU) be equally included as options for City employees/retirees.

Willis-Knighton remains the highest ranked health system in the area for quality of care, as noted by multiple independent rating agencies, including CMS. The majority of City employees, retirees and their families have chosen Willis-Knighton doctors and hospitals as their preferred providers of healthcare. The City stated in its recent news release that, “Nothing has been established that takes control away from the employee to select Willis-Knighton Health System for their healthcare needs.” That may be true. However, the proposed options include only Christus and Ochsner/LSU hospitals and doctors in Tier 1, pushing WK down to Tier 2. Employees/retirees who choose Tier 2 providers would likely pay more out of pocket costs, as is customary with tiered plans. If this is the case, employees/retirees who choose to continue receiving services from their WK doctors and hospitals would be financially penalized.

Willis-Knighton supports the position of many City employees/retirees who advocate that no changes should be made at this late hour, leaving the existing plan in place that treats all hospitals equally until a formal RFP can be issued. This would help assure that the City receives the best pricing and benefits for its employees/retirees.

As a healthcare organization headquartered in Shreveport, we want to be clear that we appreciate the City and all of its hardworking employees, past and present. Because we are locally owned and operated, we have a vested interest in the City’s future. Our goal has always been to work with the City to save money on the health plan, while assuring that employees/retirees can continue to receive the highest quality of care from Willis-Knighton without any financial penalties.

We believe the needs of City employees/retirees can be met best by an equitable bidding process that includes open, transparent communications.

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