Call center deadline missed, merger deal sill up for debate
As deliberations continue on whether to merge Montana's Blue Cross Blue Shield with Chicago based, Health Care Services Corporation, the deadline for the corporation to open a call center in Great Falls was missed
Attorney General Tim Fox, and State Auditor Monica Lindeen, did not supply what HCSC called "reasonable assurance" that the merger with Montana's Blue Cross Blue Shield would go through by March 30th, losing Montana a deal worth more than $40 million and 100 jobs in Great Falls.
Fox: "We went from 17 million we negotiated them up in excess of 40 million but their agreement that they would establish this call center in Great Falls.”
Fox says he hoped to negotiate a higher price and lock in the call center in Great Falls to ensure the best deal for Montana. Chief counselor for Lindeen, Jesse Laslovich says the deadline the company picked was too early to legally commit.
"They put up an arbitrary deadline for March 30th that we simply could not meet practically and we simply could not meet legally.”
Up until March 11th HCSC and state officials were in agreement that Fox and Lindeen would submit their approval for the merger on April 19th.
"We thought we were good to go for the Great Falls jobs."
HCSC says they need to know the status of the merger sooner in order to prepare to build a call center, but still agree to the April 19th deadline for the attorney general and commissioner to approve or deny merging the two companies. Laslovich says there is much to consider.
"What we've been diving into is what the effect will be on premiums."
Both Fox and Lindeen say they will make the decision that is best for Montanans. Both the state auditor and attorney general say that if the merger goes through they hope HCSC will build a call center in the state to help create more jobs in Montana.
Story by Kelley Smith
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