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KNOX COUNTY HOSPITAL NAMED TOP 100 RURAL & COMMUNITY HOSPITAL IN U.S. 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 25, 2020

Knox County Hospital Named Top 100 Rural & Community Hospital in U.S. Chartis Center for Rural Health Includes Knox County as one of six 2020 Texas honorees Knox City, Texas (February 25, 2020) – The Knox County Hospital today announced it has been named to the 2020 Top 100 Rural & Community Hospital list by The Chartis Center for Rural Health. It is the second time in the last four years that the Knox County Hospital has been singled out for Top 100 recognition nationally. Only six Texas rural hospitals were selected for this prestigious award.

“This award is validation for the staff, nurses and doctors who have worked so hard to deliver outstanding health care to our rural community,” said Stephen Kuehler, CEO of the Knox County Hospital. “It is demonstrable proof from an impartial judge that our hospital is providing critically important high-quality care to Knox and the surrounding counties. I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”

This annual award honoring rural hospital performance is determined by the results of iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2020.

Based entirely on publicly available data, the INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. Utilizing 50 independent indicators, the INDEX assesses performance across eight pillars of performance that span market-, value- and finance-based categories. Hospitals recognized as a Top 100 facility had one of the 100 highest overall scores among all rural and community hospitals nationally.

“The Top 100 Rural & Community Hospital award program reminds us that rural providers haven’t lost touch with their mission and are committed to delivering better quality, better outcomes and better patient satisfaction. It’s a pleasure to be able to not only recognize this year’s recipients, but our larger group of top 100 alumni as we celebrate 10 years of The Hospital Strength INDEX,” said Michael Topchik, National Leader, The Chartis Center for Rural Health.

According to the American Hospital Association there are some 2,000 Rural & Community Hospitals in the United States The Knox County Hospital was also recognized in 2017, and last year received its Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation.

The CAH designation is given to eligible rural hospitals with 25 or fewer beds by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They must offer 24/7 emergency care and have a physician available on call at all times. They must have an RN on site at all times when acutely ill patients are in the hospital. In addition, they must be at least 35 miles from the nearest hospital.

“Facilities like ours are critical to people living in rural communities,” Kuehler said. “And to be recognized as among the top five percent of rural hospitals in the entire country is extremely gratifying.”

“We made a decision several years ago that we could innovate, expand our services, develop new revenue sources and provide enhanced health care delivery for our citizens,” Kuehler said. “I really believe people all across the country are now seeing the results of the commitment our community.”

The Knox County Hospital is operated by the Knox County Hospital District, which provides healthcare services for residents of Knox County and surrounding areas. The hospital district offers a wealth of medical services, including 24-hour emergency care, advanced radiology services, a clinical laboratory, physical therapy, patient education and more.

The District also operates two rural health clinics, an outpatient retail pharmacy, home health, emergency medical services (EMS), a nursing home and durable medical equipment (DME) services.

The other Texas hospitals on the Top 100 Rural & Community Hospital list are located in Childress, Breckenridge, Kerrville, Fredericksburg and Columbus.

Top 100 Hospital Resources: The list of this year’s Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals as well as the INDEX methodology can be found at www.ivantageindex.com/top-performing-hospitals.

To learn more about The Chartis Center for Rural Health or to speak with someone regarding the INDEX and the Top 100, please email Billy Balfour at wbalfour@chartis.com.

Amid Court Battle, BCBS Ends Contract with Knox County Hospital for Federal Employees

Federal employees and retirees in Knox County received notice a day after open enrollment ended that their local hospital would no longer be in-network for Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Service Benefit Plan.

In a statement sent to the Times-Record News, BCBS of Texas said the following plans would not longer have Knox County Hospital District in network for the following plans.

The company directed patients to hospitals 20 and 40 miles away to remain in-network. The statement sent to the Times-Record continues, “Members being treated for a pregnancy, disability, acute condition or life-threatening illness may have continuity of care benefits. This means they may still be able to see their current doctor at Knox County Hospital for a limited time after the hospital goes out of network.”

FULL ARTICLE HERE

Knox County Hospital, Blue Cross Blue Shield headed to arbitration in $21 million lawsuit

A $21 million lawsuit by Knox County Hospital District against Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is headed to arbitration.

Federal District Judge Reed O’Connor issued the ruling in December, forcing the two battling entities to conclude the majority of the matter outside of court.

Knox County Hospital District’s termination claim was exempted from arbitration, though. Once the two have concluded the process, O’Connor ruled, they’ll return to court to finish the process.

Knox County viewed the decision as a positive, saying through a news release Monday that O’Connor’s ruling leaves open the possibility of returning to court if a solution cannot be found.

“The judge has made it clear that he wants this matter resolved in a timely fashion, and we will move quickly to meet his order,” Kelly Dawson, attorney for the hospital district, said in the release. “We’re pleased to have the option of coming back to court if we are unable to resolve some of the serious financial hardships that have been imposed on the Knox County Hospital.

“We want the citizens of Knox County to be fully covered before this issued is resolved.”

FULL ARTICLE HERE

FEDERAL JUDGE STAYS PORTION OF KNOX COUNTY HOSPITAL LAWSUIT AGAINST BCBS, ORDERS BOTH PARTIES TO ARBITRATE BREACH OF CONTRACT & NON-PAYMENT CLAIMS

(Wichita Falls, TX, January 13, 2020) – A ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor has left a portion of the Knox County Hospital District (KCHD) $21 million lawsuit against Blue Cross / Blue Shield (BCBS) pending, as both parties have been ordered to enter arbitration. The judge ordered both parties to attempt Alternative Dispute Resolution arbitration – and he stayed the remaining portions of the lawsuit pending an arbitrator’s decision.

That means that Knox County can still pursue its legal claims against BCBS if the parties are unable to reach a settlement in arbitration.

The order issued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Wichita Falls, Division, concludes:

“Where all of the issues raised before the court are subject to arbitration, dismissal is permissible… Here not all of Plaintiff’s (KCHD) claims are referred (to arbitration). But since this claim is dependent on the merits of the disputes that will be arbitrated, the Court exercises its discretion to stay this case pending the arbitrator’s determination.”
– Honorable Reed O’Connor United States District Judge

The Court ruling came in response to Motions for Summary Judgement in the lawsuit (Knox County Hospital District v. Health Care Service Corporation – 7:19-cv-000995-O-ND-TX- WTFD) filed in U.S. District Court earlier in December. BCBS had filed a motion to have the entire matter sent to arbitration.

“The Board of Directors, employees and patients of Knox County Hospital could not be more pleased with Judge O’Connor’s decision to leave critical parts of this lawsuit pending, while ordering both parties into arbitration,” said Kelly Dawson, attorney for KCHD. “We appreciate the Court’s willingness to have a full hearing on the factual allegations we have asserted in the lawsuit.”

Dawson also applauded the court for moving quickly on the case which it originally filed in State District Court in September. BCBS moved to have the case moved to federal court and then filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed.

“The judge has made it clear that he wants this matter resolved in a timely fashion, and we will move quickly to meet his order,” Dawson said. “We’re pleased to have the option of coming back to court if we are unable to resolve some of the serious financial hardships that have been imposed on the Knox County Hospital. We want the citizens of Knox County to be fully covered before this issued is resolved.”

BCBS began with-holding payments from Knox County in 2017 – in violation of the state’s Prompt Pay Statue – and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has refused to take action despite repeated complaints filed by KCHD. After a state District Judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order in September, BCBS filed to have the case heard in the Northern District of Texas Federal Court.

In its Motion for Summary Judgement filed in December, Knox County maintained that BCBS had engaged in a systematic pattern of nefarious activities, including, but are not limited to, fraud, slander, violations of the Texas Insurance Code and violations of Texas Civil Practices Code.

Knox County filed an amended complaint against Blue Cross Blue Shield in the Northern District of Texas Federal Court after the insurance giant had the case removed from state District Court in Knox County. The hospital’s complaint detailed the following causes of action against Chicago based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX):

  • Breach of contract for failing to pay agreed upon rate
  • Violation of prompt payment laws according to the Texas Insurance Code
  • Improper recoupment from a provider in violation of Texas law
  • Retaliation
  • Business disparagement

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About Knox County Hospital District:

Knox County Hospital District provides healthcare services for residents of Knox County and surrounding areas. The hospital district offers a wealth of medical services, including 24-hour emergency care, advanced radiology services, a clinical laboratory, physical therapy, patient education and more. The Knox County Hospital is a 25-bed acute care critical access facility located in Knox City, Texas which is 78 miles north of Abilene. The District also operates two rural health clinics, an outpatient retail pharmacy, home health, emergency medical services (EMS), a nursing home and durable medical equipment (DME) services.

Contact:

Chuck McDonald
512-658-5958
Mcdonaldpr.charles@gmail.com

KNOX COUNTY HOSPITAL TO PROVIDE TREATMENT FOR BCBS-COVERED PATIENTS DESPITE INSURANCE COMPANY DROPPING HOSPITAL FROM NETWORK, EFFECTIVE JAN. 16, 2020

(KNOX CITY, TX, December 16, 2019) – The Knox County Hospital District (KCHD) Administrator Stephen Kuehler has notified all federal and state employees and retirees who have health insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBS) that the Hospital will continue to provide treatment services to them and their family members despite the BCBS notification that it was dropping the hospital from its network.

“We will not treat the citizens of Knox County the way Blue Cross is treating us,” Kuehler said in a letter to local citizens with BCBS plans. “This hospital has been providing care for our community for more than 90years and we will continue to do so. I want to assure all government employees and retirees that we will provide all necessary treatment regardless of what Blue Cross chooses to do.”

The Knox County Hospital is the only hospital in the county and those citizens receiving healthcare coverage through government plans were notified last week – the day after the enrollment period had ended for the upcoming year – that Blue Cross would drop the Knox County Hospital from its network.

Knox County residents receiving health benefits through BCBS Federal Employee Program received notification from BCBS on December 10 that the provider was dropping Knox County Hospital from its network. Open enrollment for participants in the Federal Employee Program closed on Dec. 9, 2019.

“Notifying our citizens the day after the enrollment period ended was a callous, calculated decision made to create as much pain and suffering as possible for Blue Cross customers and this hospital,” Kuehler said.

Kuehler said that hospital attorneys had been negotiating with the Illinois-based company on an extension to its current contract, after BCBS provided it with notice that it intended to drop the hospital from its network. He said the hospital only learned of the latest BCBS action when he was contacted by distraught local residents who had been notified by the insurance giant that it was dropping the only hospital in the county from its network.

“I certainly expect the state of Texas to intervene, because BCBS has promised to provide insurance coverage in all 254 Texas counties as part of its contract with the state,” Kuehler said. “The state has an obligation to ensure that all citizens have equal access to health care.”

The Knox County Hospital is currently pursuing a lawsuit in federal court against BCBS regarding more than $21 million in unpaid claims dating back to 2017. With BCBS in violation of the state’s Prompt Pay Statue, KCHD had filed a formal complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), which failed to take action. Finally, a state District Judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order in September against BCBS, which the insurer filed to have moved to the Northern District of Texas Federal Court in Wichita Falls.

On December 11, Knox County filed a Motion for Summary Judgement filed in federal court, maintaining that BCBS had engaged in a systematic pattern of nefarious activities, including, but are not limited to, fraud, slander, violations of the Texas Insurance Code and violations of Texas Civil Practices Code.

“This hospital is not going to be bullied by Blue Cross,” Kuehler said. “We may be a small provider, but we take our responsibility to the citizens of Knox County very serious. We’re used to being treated poorly by this company, but now they want to punish everyone who lives in this county.”

Knox County Hospital District provides healthcare services for residents of Knox County and surrounding areas. The hospital district offers a wealth of medical services, including 24-hour emergency care, advanced radiology services, a clinical laboratory, physical therapy, patient education and more. The Knox County Hospital is a 25-bed acute care critical access facility located in Knox City, Texas which is 78 miles north of Abilene. The District also operates two rural health clinics, an outpatient retail pharmacy, home health, emergency medical services (EMS), a nursing home and durable medical equipment (DME) services.

Contact: Chuck McDonald
512-658-5958
Mcdonaldpr.charles@gmail.com

KNOX COUNTY HOSPITAL FILES FEDERAL COURT MOTION

(Wichita Falls, TX, December 12, 2019) – The Knox County Hospital District (KCHD) filed its Motion for Summary Judgement in the Northern District of Texas Federal Court Wednesday in its ongoing legal battle to secure more than $21 million that has been wrongfully withheld from it by Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Texas (BCBS).

Hospital attorneys praised the court for moving quickly on the case which it originally filed in State District Court in September. BCBS moved to have the case moved to federal court. Knox County submitted its legal motion in accordance with the federal court schedule.

“We look forward to having this case heard in 2020 and are confident that the taxpayers of Knox County will be made whole by the court,” said Kelly Dawson, attorney for KCHD. “Blue Cross is blatantly in violation of the Texas prompt payment laws and has yet to offer any justification for withholding payments for more than two years.”

BCBS began with-holding payments from Knox County in 2017 – in violation of the state’s Prompt Pay Statue – and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has refused to take action despite repeated complaints filed by KCHD. After a state District Judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order in September, BCBS filed to have the case heard in the Northern District of Texas Federal Court.

Kelly Dawson, attorney for the Knox County Hospital said today’s court filing was an important step forward in the effort to hold BCBS accountable.

“The Blue Cross legal strategy is pretty straight-forward,” Dawson explained. “They’ve got billions in the bank; we’re the sole healthcare provider in a county of 4,500 people, and the state of Texas isn’t going to lift a finger if they illegally withhold payment to our rural hospital… so they just don’t pay their bills.

“Blue Cross has plenty of time and money, and they’re content to delay payments until Knox County becomes the next rural hospital to go under in Texas,” Dawson said. “Nonetheless we’re going to trial early next year. The facts are on our side and we are confident that the court will order Blue Cross to pay what is owed to the Knox County Hospital District.”

In its Motion for Summary Judgement filed Wednesday, Knox County maintained that BCBS had engaged in a systematic pattern of nefarious activities, including, but are not limited to, fraud, slander, violations of the Texas Insurance Code and violations of Texas Civil Practices Code.

Knox County filed an amended complaint against Blue Cross Blue Shield in the Northern District of Texas Federal Court after the insurance giant had the case removed from state District Court in Knox County. The hospital’s complaint detailed the following causes of action against Chicago based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX):

  • Breach of contract for failing to pay agreed upon rate
  • Violation of prompt payment laws according to the Texas Insurance Code
  • Improper recoupment from a provider in violation of Texas law
  • Retaliation
  • Business disparagement

On August 16, the late Bobby D. Burnett, Judge of the 50th State District Court, entered a temporary restraining order on BCBSTX which included the following findings of fact:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield has willfully and wantonly undertaken acts to secure funds which do not belong to them;
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield engaged in slanderous activities;
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield willfully and wantonly breached a duty of care;
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield willfully and wantonly violated insurance regulations of the state of Texas;
  • The Court deems these acts to be willful conduct of fraud.

About Knox County Hospital District:

Knox County Hospital District provides healthcare services for residents of Knox County and surrounding areas. The hospital district offers a wealth of medical services, including 24-hour emergency care, advanced radiology services, a clinical laboratory, physical therapy, patient education and more. The Knox County Hospital is a 25-bed acute care critical access facility located in Knox City, Texas which is 78 miles north of Abilene. The District also operates two rural health clinics, an outpatient retail pharmacy, home health, emergency medical services (EMS), a nursing home and durable medical equipment (DME) services.

Contact: Chuck McDonald 512-658-5958

Mcdonaldpr.charles@gmail.com

Knox County Hospital District files response to BCBS in federal court

The Knox County Hospital District filed an amended complaint against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas in the U.S. District Northern District of Texas, hospital officials announced Monday.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas was ordered in August by a Texas district judge to pay more than $21 million in unpaid insurance claims owed to the Knox County Hospital, which claimed the insurance company, among other accusations, committed "acts to be willful conduct of fraud."

KNOX COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT FILES RESPONSE TO BLUE CROSS IN FEDERAL COURT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Wichita Falls, TX, September 30, 2019) – The Knox County Hospital District has filed an amended complaint against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) in the U.S. District Northern District of Texas Wichita Falls Division which details the following causes of action against BCBSTX:

  • Breach of contract for failing to pay agreed upon rate
  • Violation of prompt payment laws according to the Texas Insurance Code
  • Improper recoupment from a provider in violation of Texas law
  • Retaliation
  • Business disparagement

The insurance giant steadfastly refuses to pay more than $21 million in unpaid insurance claims owed to the Knox County Hospital District since 2017. In an effort to avoid a trial in front of a Knox County jury, BCBSTX moved to have the case heard in federal court where the hospital submitted its amended complaint Friday.

“True to form, Blue Cross continues its bully pattern of delay, obstruction and stall tactics to avoid paying its debt to Knox County Hospital. We will vigorously fight their motion to dismiss the case. We are confident that the federal court find this matter deserves a full and thorough hearing in a court of law.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is clearly in violation of Texas prompt pay statues and Knox County Hospital is due these payments that are more than two years old,” Dawson said. “We are determined to have our day court.”

On August 16, the Honorable Bobby D. Burnett, Judge of the 50th State District Court, entered a temporary restraining order on BCBSTX which included the following findings of fact:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield has willfully and wantonly undertaken acts to secure funds which do not belong to them;
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield engaged in slanderous activities;
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield willfully and wantonly breached a duty of care;
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield willfully and wantonly violated the Insurance (regulations) of the state of Texas;
  • The Court deems these acts to be willful conduct of fraud.

BCBS stopped making reimbursement payments to Knox County Hospital in June of 2017. It wasn’t until October of 2017 that the company finally responded to inquiries by claiming it was a computer glitch. Knox County Hospital continued to treat Blue Cross Blue Shield subscribers and submit claims. Blue Cross Blue Shield continued to withhold reimbursement. The Knox County Hospital District then sought intervention from the Texas Department of Insurance which did not prove successful.

###

About Knox County Hospital District:

Knox County Hospital District provides healthcare services for residents of Knox County and surrounding areas. The hospital district offers a wealth of medical services, including 24-hour emergency care, advanced radiology services, a clinical laboratory, physical therapy, patient education and more. The Knox County Hospital is a 25-bed acute care critical access facility located in Knox City, Texas which is 78 miles north of Abilene. The District also operates two rural health clinics, an outpatient retail pharmacy, home health, emergency medical services (EMS), a nursing home and durable medical equipment (DME) services.

 

 

Contact: Chuck McDonald

512-658-5958

Mcdonaldpr.charles@gmail.com

 

Blue Cross-Knox City Conflict May Be Going to Federal Court

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is hoping to move the legal battle with Knox County Hospital District to federal court, and the temporary restraining order hearing scheduled for September 10 has been suspended.

After 50th District Court Judge Bobby Burnett issued the TRO ordering BCBS to pay Knox County Hospital more than $21 million in what they allege are unpaid insurance claims, BCBS filed a motion in U.S. District Court for Northern Texas in Wichita Falls to move the case to federal court because BCBS of Texas is owned by Health Care Services Corporation in Chicago.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is hiding behind its legal status in another state to claim that a Texas District Court is not qualified to hear this case,” said Kelly Dawson, the attorney for Knox County Hospital District via release. “Texans are qualified to pay premiums and provide care on behalf of Blue Cross, but Blue Cross doesn’t think they’re qualified to decide if the company is operating illegally when it comes to paying a local Texas hospital.”

Hearing over $21M in alleged unpaid BCBS claims to Texas hospital postponed

A hearing scheduled for Sept. 10 regarding a Texas hospital's temporary restraining order against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas has been pushed back, according to a press release from the hospital.

The hearing has been postponed as BCBS aims to move the case to federal court.

In August, a Texas district judge issued a temporary restraining order against BCBS to make it pay Knox County Hospital in Knox City $21 million in alleged unpaid claims. BCBS filed a motion to move the case to a federal court, as its parent company is headquartered in Chicago.

In August, BCBSTX told Becker's in an emailed statement it intended to "vigorously defend against the hospital's allegations."