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Ascension says it reached a deal with Blue Cross on healthcare costs

Gabriel C. Pérez

Ahead of an end-of-month deadline, Ascension says it has struck a deal with Blue Cross Blue Shield that would allow thousands of Central Texans to keep their health care plans intact.

The two parties announced earlier this month they'd reached a stalemate in negotiations, putting at risk the health care coverage of at least 66,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield customers. Those customers would have had to pay out-of-pocket for some care at Austin's major hospitals, including Ascension Seton Medical Center and Dell Children's Medical Center, if not for an agreement.

Ascension announced the deal in a statement to KUT, saying patients' plans would be unchanged.

"The new agreement ... ensures that the community can continue to access quality care with Ascension’s well-known and trusted providers," the statement reads. "Patients can continue scheduling appointments with their providers as normal."

KUT reached out to Blue Cross Blue Shield to confirm the agreement, but has not yet heard back. Blue Cross is the largest insurer in Texas, providing employer-based health insurance plans to UT Austin, City of Austin, Amazon and H-E-B employees.

The agreement caps weeks of confusion for patients, who feared they may lose access to life-saving treatment.

On Tuesday, Central Health, Travis County’s hospital district, sued Ascension Seton, alleging it violated an agreement to run UT’s Dell Seton Medical Center by failing to provide health care for low-income Austinites. Central Health proposed taking over the hospital. Ascension filed a countersuit, arguing the hospital district misrepresented its service.

Copyright 2023 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Andrew Weber is a freelance reporter and associate editor for KUT News. A graduate of St. Edward's University with a degree in English, Andrew has previously interned with The Texas Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman and KOOP Radio.