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BlueCross BlueShield Drops 53K Customers in Western New York

12:22 PM, Jul 18, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Some 53,000 Medicaid recipients in western New York will lose their managed care coverage from BlueCross BlueShield, the Buffalo News reports:

The insurer, which plans to publicly announce its withdrawal from the program today, informed government officials of the move Thursday in a memo that was obtained by The Buffalo News.

“We have incurred losses in excess of $40 million over the past three years in these programs,” Don Ingalls, the insurer’s vice president of state and federal relations, said in the memo. “We have a 20+ year history of supporting these programs and members; however, we cannot continue to do so as the losses ultimately have been funded by other lines of business.”

The move means that Medicaid managed care recipients in Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Orleans, Wyoming and Allegany counties will have to move to another insurance provider by Oct. 31. BlueCross BlueShield said it would notify Medicaid clients of the withdrawal by the end of August, giving them two months to make the switch.

A spokesman for BlueCross Blue Shield tells the newspaper the decision to drop the patients "really is not driven" by changes to the health-care system under Obamacare, but there's no denying the state of New York's Medicaid rolls have grown substantially since the implementation of the law. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of New Yorkers on Medicaid increased 6.1 percent between July-September 2013 and March 2014. That's more than 340,000 more Mediciad enrollees across the state. .

“I would argue that BlueCross BlueShield now has a lot more clients on Medicaid because of Obamacare, so they would lose a lot more money,” Republican state representative Chris Collins told the News. “I don’t see how they could say that this doesn’t have a connection to Obamacare.”

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