A promise not a threat: Bryant orders BCBS to reinstate 10 hospitals

blue-crossJACKSON, Miss. – Gov. Phil Bryant late Tuesday afternoon followed through on an earlier threat against Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi by issuing an executive order requiring that the BCBS reinstate 10 Health Management Association hospitals as in-network providers.

The order demands the reinstatement for approximately 60 days until an investigation of  BCBS’s actions can be done.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi terminated its contracts with the 10 Mississippi hospitals, including five in metro Jackson, on Sept. 1. The action came after Naples, Fla.-ased hopsital group Health Management Associates filed a lawsuit in June seeking an additional $19 million in reimbursement for care and treatment of BCBS policyholders. Bryant’s office, through a press statement, emphasized that the order does not attempt to resolve the parties’ dispute over prior payments under their contracts

“I had hoped the two parties could come to some resolution, but as governor, I cannot sit back and allow Mississippian’s access to care to be threatened in violation of state law,” Bryant said. “It is my hope that a full investigation will ensure that no law has been broken as it relates to a patient’s access to care and a provider’s responsibility under state law.”

The Department of Insurance’s investigation will address whether the hospitals’ exclusion from BCBS’s network runs afoul of the state laws pertaining to patient protection or violates any other state law.

Health Management Association has been treating BCBS policyholders as in-network since the severing of the contract, but has voiced doubts it can continue to bear the cost reimbursement losses for much longer.

Bryant’s threat last week to issue the executive order led BCBS to seek a temporary restraining order blocking Bryant’s action. BCBS said it needed the temporary halt to the order in order to seek a permanent injunction. In a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, the insurer called Bryant’s action “unprecedented” and “flawed and improper on numerous levels.”

Bryant’s office said Tuesday the order demands the 10 hospitals be returned temporarily to the network on the same terms on which they operated before their exclusion.

The governor’s order provides for the Department of Insurance to complete its investigation of the hospitals’ exclusion and, if appropriate, hold hearings on any violations of the law that are identified. If the Department of Insurance identifies no violations, the order requires it to submit a report explaining why the hospitals’ exclusion is consistent with applicable state law.

The order specifies that the investigation, as well as any required hearings or reports, should be completed within 60 days. It will then expire automatically seven days after this process concludes.

Bryant based his order primarily on the Mississippi Patient Protection Act of 1995, which requires BCBS and other insurers to provide their enrollees with “reasonable access to care with minimum inconvenience.” The press statement said the governor’s constitutional obligation is to see that the Act is “faithfully executed and enforced.”

Bryant’s office said the governor and his staff consulted extensively with Attorney General Jim Hood and his team before issuing the executive order.

Click here to download Executive Order 1327.

Black Thursday? Kolh’s joins retail parade for Thanksgiving openings

Following the lead of rivals Macy’s and J.C. Penney, Kohl’s Department Stores announced it will open its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, kicking off its Black Friday event earlier than ever, the trade publication Chain Store Age reports.

Are retailers trampling our nation's tradition of giving thanks on Thanksgiving?

Will the urge to shop trample our nation’s tradition of giving thanks on Thanksgiving?

A Jackson retail leasing agent said the expectation is that Belk will join the crowd and swing its doors open Thanksgiving.

Kolh’s stores, which include locations in Flowood and Hattiesburg, will be open for 28 hours straight – from 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28 through midnight Friday nationwide.

The retailer is also offering a digital variation on the photos with Santa tradition. Starting in November, shoppers can skip the long lines to visit Santa at the mall by taking a photo at Kohl’s Snapshots with Santa in-store photo opportunity in Kohl’s stores nationwide, Chain Store Age reports.

Customers can snap their picture against a green screen display, select a unique holiday background with Santa and share via email and social media using the Kohl’s Snapshots with Santa app.

Chain Store Age also reports that new this year, and in time for the holidays, is Kohl’s iPhone app will feature a new savings wallet, giving shoppers the ability to track Kohl’s Cash right on their phone.



Aaron’s agrees to stop spying on computer renters

Aaron’s Inc., an Atlanta-based rent-to-own retailer with dozens of store sin Mississippi, has agreed to stop using software to secretly spy on and photograph customers who rented computers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

We'll be watching you.

We’ll be watching you.

The Federal Trade Commission had accused Aaron’s and its franchisees of using software to monitor customers’ computer keystrokes and secretly watch them in their homes through the computers’ webcams, the Times reported.

In some instances, the company captured images of customers engaged in what the FTC called “intimate activities.”

Read the full story:

We’ll be watching you.

Clinton school teachers integrate technology into learning

Gifted students at Lovett Elementary used their MacBook Air laptops to log into an online forensics laboratory. They conducted virtual autopsies and studied fingerprinting, ballistic analysis, toxicology and other sciences. (Courtesy of Clinton Public School District)

Gifted students at Lovett Elementary used their MacBook Air laptops to log into an online forensics laboratory. They conducted virtual autopsies and studied fingerprinting, ballistic analysis, toxicology and other sciences. (Courtesy of Clinton Public School District)

Special to The MBJ

CLINTON — Teaching methods are changing in Clinton’s public schools.

Throughout the Clinton Public School District, teachers and students are incorporating new apps and software into day-to-day instruction.

“Research shows that using these devices, apps and software is a way to get kids engaged in the learning process,” said Dr. Kameron Ball, CPSD’s director of technology. “It makes learning come alive when kids can do hands-on projects using technology.”

At Northside Elementary, CPSD’s second- and third-grade school, students recently used their iPads for research projects on animals. Northside teacher Kelleigh McLeod spearheaded a multi-classroom initiative where students used their iPads to research animals and make iMovies about what they learned. As part of the lesson, parents were invited to an Animal Wax Museum in which students dressed up as the animals they researched and played their iMovies for parents.

“Each student was assigned to research an animal and they put the facts they learned into an iMovie,” McLeod said. “They included pictures of the animals and filmed themselves talking about the animals’ habitat, diet, predators and prey and other facts.”

Keshawn Alexander, a student in Maggi Cowan’s second grade class, was assigned to research tigers.

“Tiger mothers have two to four cubs,” he said. “The cubs stay with their mother for two years.”

His movie featured photos of adult and baby tigers and video of himself talking about the big cats. His classmate Noah Wallace created a similar video on boa constrictors.

“Boas do not eat large animals,” Noah said. “They mostly eat little animals like reptiles, rats, bats, mice and birds.”

The unit concluded with a production of the play “Rumpus in the Rainforest,” which was live-streamed on www.clintonpublicschools.com .

Michael and Thea Gates, parents of second-grader Chandler Gates, said they were “very impressed” at the wax museum presentation. Chandler learned about frogs and came home talking about how frogs lay clutches of eggs and sometimes eat smaller frogs, Michael Gates said.

“With the iPad, it’s amazing how she works it,” Thea Gates said. “She was taking pictures and making movies and she talks about it all the time at home. It’s amazing. And she’s done a lot of things on her own. It’s great that the district has provided the iPads for students.”

Second-graders at Northside Elementary presented an Animal Wax Museum as part of a research project on animals. Children dressed up as the animals they researched and invited their parents and teachers to watch iMovies they’d created to go along with the research. (Courtesy of Clinton Public School District)

Second-graders at Northside Elementary presented an Animal Wax Museum as part of a research project on animals. Children dressed up as the animals they researched and invited their parents and teachers to watch iMovies they’d created to go along with the research. (Courtesy of Clinton Public School District)

At the ninth-grade level, Sumner Hill Junior High School counselor Heather Norton is adding two videos about bullying to students’ computers.

“I used these videos last year during the school year,” she said. “This year I want to show them to the entire student body since everyone has computers. Last year we showed them to smaller groups through our TVs.”

Students are downloading assignments and turning them in online, and doing online research projects.

At Lovett Elementary, Clinton’s sixth-grade school, students in the gifted classes recently used their MacBook Air laptops to do an online forensics science lesson.

“They conducted autopsies online and studied how forensic pathologists work in a lab setting,” said teacher Ellen Brunson. “The kids had a great time with it and they learned a lot.”

Lovett students used the interactive online labs to collect evidence, analyze that evidence and solve crimes. The project covered anthropology, biology, chemistry, odontology, toxicology, pathology, fingerprinting, ballistic analysis, trace evidence, entomology and many other sciences.

Brunson said each student chose a forensic science to research.

“They are using their laptops to make PowerPoint presentations to teach a lesson on their science,” she said. “We have also found a Web site that allows students to create games and quizzes in PowerPoint format in order to include an activity to test the students after the lesson. I can’t wait to see them teach the class.”

Students will follow up with researching for lab experiments and choosing one to carry out in class, she said.

“It is such a joy to see students so involved in learning and enjoying it so much,” she said. “It’s exciting and students are really enjoying this.”

“Now that every student has a laptop or iPad, we are not limited to one or two computer labs for students to use,” said Dr. Phil Burchfield, superintendent. “Teachers are using the new technology to open worlds of learning for these students that we didn’t have access to before.”

(VIDEO) Charles Robertson: The next big economic boom

The past decade has seen slow and steady economic growth across the continent of Africa. But, in this Ted Talk,  economist Charles Robertson has a bold thesis: Africa’s about to boom. He talks through a few of the indicators — from rising education levels to expanded global investment (and not just from China) — that lead him to predict rapid growth for a billion people, sooner than you may think.

In “The Fastest Billion,” Charles Robertson re-examines the narrative of economic growth in African nations.