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Letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield causes confusion

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By PETER SAWYER

A letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee caused confusion earlier this month. A number of Campbell County residents who subscribe to BCBST received misinformation by way of a letter that was sent on Dec. 5. Many thought they were no longer able to use their local pharmacies, such as Riggs Drug Store and Terry’s Pharmacy.
“It began last Monday,” Terry’s Pharmacy owner Rissa Pryse said. “All last week we’ve been approached by our patients who’ve gotten these letters, bringing them in, wondering what they’re going to do. I’ve got a stack of letters two inches thick.”
The same thing happened at Riggs Drug Store.
“The customers brought it in to us,” Riggs Drug Store owner Bob Fannon said.
The letter told BCBST members pharmacies such as Riggs Drug Store and Terry’s Pharmacy wouldn’t be a part of the Plus 90 network next year. This would mean customers who have BCBST wouldn’t be able to receive three-month supplies of their prescriptions at these pharmacies.
This information wasn’t true, Fannon said. Riggs, Terry’s and Family Drug in Jellico agreed to become part of the Plus 90 network, he said.
“I was told Blue Cross was going to apologize and send a letter out to everybody,” Fannon said.
“These pharmacies will be in network,” Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Kelly Allen said on Dec. 18, referring to Riggs, Terry’s and Family Drug Center in Jellico.
However, Walgreens will not be a part of the plus 90 network, Allen said.
“Walgreens has selected to be in the 30-day network,” Allen said.
Riggs Drug Store, Terry’s Pharmacy, Wal-Mart Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Jellico Drug Store, Family Drug Center, CVS and Medical Center Pharmacy are the pharmacies in Campbell County participating in the plus 90 network, according to the plus 90 retail network listing.
Pryse is worried the letter will cause customers to stop purchasing their prescriptions at local pharmacies.
“My concern is that they will either think they will have to go to one of the chains, or mail order,” Pryse said. “And that is not the case. I think that the people of LaFollette just need to know they can use the hometown, locally-owned pharmacy of their choice.”
“Members themselves will be contacted,” Allen said.
Pryse got in touch with the Tennessee Pharmacists Association who contacted BCBST.
“Blue Cross has assured them (TPA) a letter will be sent out,” Pryse said.
BCBST members will receive phone calls and letters informing them they can receive three-month supplies of drugs at their local pharmacies, Allen said.
The city of LaFollette will also attach a notice with payroll to inform employees the letter contained information that wasn’t true, interim city administrator Cade Sexton said.
“I never did see a letter,” Sexton said. “I didn’t have one employee tell me they got that. Evidently, some did.”
At a special called meeting the LaFollette City Council held on Dec. 14, Mayor Mike Stanfield said he received one of the letters.
When Pryse contacted BCBST, nobody could tell her where the letter had originated, she said.
The reason the letter was sent was because there was a delay in communication, Allen said.
“We just didn’t have all the information from everybody to know if they were going to be in the 90-day network,” Allen said. “We do have to send those letters out at a specific time.”
“This happens a lot,” Fannon said. “It’s one or two (providers) a year does something like this.”