Tuesday, July 27, 2010

meeting to be held on august 11th with president of empire--we hope they resolve dispute with area hospitals

the Editor:
On August 11th Mark Wagar, President of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, will be meeting with me and fellow Town Supervisors, Mayors and Village Managers at Greenburgh Town Hall. The purpose: to discuss the breakdown in negotiations between Empire BlueCross BlueShield and Stellaris Health Network.
As a result of this contract dispute, many municipal employees who bought Empire Blue Cross Blue Sheld cannot receive medical care at Lawrence Hospital Center, Northern Westchester Hospital, Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, and White Plains Hospital Center. The dispute means that patients who have long standing relationships with local doctors can't use doctors they trust for elective procedures because the doctors don't have privileges at the local hospitals. The lack of a contract has severely restricted the choice of hospitals where our employees and those who have Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage can seek their medical care.
To prepare for this important meeting - I would appreciate it if your readers would e mail me their hard luck stories so I can share them with Mr. Wagar. Hopefully, if Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield understand the impact this dispute is having on hundreds of Westchester residents who purchased insurance from them but are now receiving reduced service (at no discounts) --it will motivate the company to negotiate in good faith with Stellaris Health Network. A group of Town Supervisors, Mayors, Village Managers met with Hospital Presidents and Stellaris Health network recently.
We hope that if we keep the pressure up - that this dispute will be resolved and that local government employees and other residents who have Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield will be able to continue to receive the medical care they depend on from their preferred hospitals and from doctors they have relationships with.
Please e mail me your experiences and comments to: pfeiner@greenburghny.com. I will forward all e mails to Mr. Wagar and to Stellaris and area hospital Presidents.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor


-----Original Message-----

From: cbrykSent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:47 AM

To: Paul Feiner

Subject: Impacted by Empire BCBS

Hi Paul,

I have a number of drs who are affiliated with White Plains Hospital. Last month I broke a bone in my foot. Instead of going to WPH located directly behind my dr's office for x-rays, I had to travel to WCMC. It was an inconvenience all around. My dr doesn't have an affiliation with the hospital so it took days to get the results and it added to the time I was out of the office. Let me know if you want me to provide an update or if this is sufficient for your purposes.


Christine Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


From: Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:53 AM
To: Paul Feiner
Subject: Blue Cross situation

Hi Paul,

I am a long time Greenburgh resident who is impacted greatly by the current Blue Cross situation. As a ten year Leukemia survivor, with life long complications due to a 44 month chemo therapy regiment, I am under the care of several doctors. I was recently advised that several of my doctors NO LONGER accept my current insurance due to the ongoing BC/BS situation. Needless to say this is very disturbing to me.

If I can do anything to help resolve this dispute please call upon me.

As always Paul, thank you for all you do for the residents of Greenburgh.




From: Frank D [Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:54 AM
To: Paul Feiner
Subject: Stellaris & Empire

My wife and I are impacted by the negotiation failure. Most of our MDs work out of White Plains Hospital and if an elective procedure comes along we would have consequences.


From: Paul Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 12:03 PM
To: Paul Feiner
Subject: Empire Blue Cross-Stellaris Hospital network

Dear Mr.Finer: I am writing in response to your e-mail fo yesterday or this morning concerning the termination of the contract between Empire and Stellaris. This occurred earlier this year, in April, I believe. I have considerable experience in the employee benefit field since I have worked in it for more than fifty years. Empire Blue Cross is a major carrier. The termination of their contract with Stellaris is a serious problem for the people insured with Empire because they cannot use these four hospitals (Phelps, Northern Westchester, White Plains and Lawrence) and receive benefits from their Empire plan as they could before the contract ended. If a person’s Empire plan is an E.P.O. type of plan paying in-network benefits only, then expenses incurred in these hospitals are not reimbursed at all. If the plan provides out-of-network benefits, reimbursement for such hospital expenses are now subject to deductible and co-insurance, leaving the insured person liable for out-of-pocket amounts which may be very high.Doctors are also affected because they may try to admit patients to other hospitals where they also have admitting priveleges and which are in the Empire network but which may not be as medically suitable for the patient or as conveniently located. For example, I have an employer client located in Katonah who is insured with Empire and whose employees normally used the Stellaris hospitals. Not, in order to receive hospital expense benefits, the employees and their dependents.have to use other hospitals in Westchester, if possible, or in Carmel or Danbury. All contracts, of course, have at least two parties involved. We don’t know the reasons this contract terminated. We don’t know the points in dispute. Therefore, I think it would be very useful if a meeting with the Stellaris representatives could be held also.Since the two sides seem to be at “loggerheads” perhaps some behind –the scene mediation could be initiated. This is a very important matter. I would gladly be of assistance to you at any time. Sincerely, Paul


Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 9:14 AM
To: Paul Feiner

Subject: Stellarts Contract, 7-27-10

July 27, 2010

Dear Supervisor Feiner:

I can only echo your sentiments regarding the Stellarts Agreement with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I am RIPPED OFF $400 every month from my government pension to pay for a Blue Cross plan that does not even let me select the hospital of my choice!

(I want to be able to to go to White Plains Hospital).

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


-----Original Message-----

From: Alan

Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 9:05 AM

To: Paul Feiner


Paul, please note that Empire shows a $1.5 billion dollar profit for last year. All that our local hospitals want are similar deals to mirror what Empire is doing in other parts of the country. My wife and I are subscribers and if any health problems arose that required hospitalization, we'd be forced to go out of the area for care. My wife and I are hobbled with having to go outside of OUR hospitals for simple everyday tests. I have written to both parties in the dispute. Empire stands to lose many subscribers if they maintain their current posture. I count among my friends a good number of doctors in the area. All are of the opinion that Empire is not negotiating in good faith with the hospitals. Good luck with this money grabbing company. Alan

-----Original Message-----
From: Facebook
To: Paul Feiner
Sent: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 4:45 pm
Subject: Joycommented on your status...

Joy commented on your status:

"I'm an employee of NYC Department of Education and also have Empire. Just got

another letter today and I'm very concerned about this"

-----Original Message-----
From: Facebook
To: Paul Feiner
Sent: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 4:43 pm
Subject: Maria commented on your status...

Maria commented on your status:

"I'm not a Greenburgh employee, but I have that plan and just had a difficult

time finding a surgeon and a hospital that both accepted my ins. Very stressful

to switch Dr and hosp. for necessary surgery. They're still making money unless

employers stop offering their product."

-----Original Message-----
From: Facebook
To: Paul Feiner
Sent: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 12:29 pm
Subject: Stephen commented on your status...

Stephen commented on your status:

"I have switched from Empire Blu!!"

From: Ron
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 12:05 AM
To: Paul Feiner

Thanks for organizing action on this, Paul.

Wow, it took only a few years For Empire Blue Cross to convert one of America’s finest brand names into something villainous!

I feel totally abandoned by Empire Blue Cross. I pay nearly $18,000 for my family’s annual health insurance premiums and now I can’t even get treatment at our local hospitals. My reaction is to abandon Empire Blue Cross. I’m working with my doctors and my insurance brokers to switch my family and my company employees away from Empire Blue Cross as quickly as possible.

Given a choice between our outstanding local hospitals and the despicable Health Insurance companies of (which I believe WellPoint and Empire Blue Cross are the worst) it didn’t take more than a second to choose whose side I’d be on. Unfortunately, switching health insurance companies takes a bit longer.

I hope my family stays healthy in the meanwhile. I can’t say the same for Mark Wagner! Please let him know how angry our community is.

Thank you,





Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:27 AM
To: Paul Feiner
Subject: Empire Healthcare/Stelaris

Hi, Paul

As a retired NYS employee, we too are impacted by this breakdown in negotiations between Empire and Stelaris.

I think that employers have to get tough with Empire. Empire has been insensitive to the needs of retirees, very selective what they pay for, and have been manipulating the system to their benefit for years. However, in the last year or so it's become tantamount to no coverage at all.

Perhaps the town should explore other options rather than renewing its contract with Empire. I hope that NYS does the same.



From: @aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:21 AM
To: Paul Feiner

This is an extremely important matter for many residents who are also retired teachers from the City of NY and
who don't have a choice but to deal with Empire.

As long as this rift is not settled, no lab work done at the hospitals in question from most area doctors, is not paid
AND we also have virtually no hospitals in our area that we can go to.
This a a far reaching breakdown that needs to be resolved and/or reported to NY State authorities.
Obviously we are not now receiving the benefits of the health care that we signed up are paying for.
You can advise Mark that we are going to complain to the NYSUT about this breach of contractual responsibility.
At the very least, they should be paying the bills until a settlement can be reached.