AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Maine Bureau of Insurance held a public comment session Thursday at CentralMaine Community College on a proposed deal between Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Maine Health, the largest healthcare organization in the state.

If approved by the bureau -- Anthem's insurance plan could exclude certain patients from seeing doctors at six Maine hospitals:

-Bridgton Hospital
-Rumford Hospital
-Central Maine Medical Center
-Parkview Adventist Medical Center
-Mercy Hospital
-York Hospital

A CMMC spokesperson says he worries that will disrupt existing doctor/patient relationships because those patients will have to travel to other hospitals to get their care.

"To force people that have current insurance with them; individual contracts into this narrow network," says Chuck Gill. "We think that's wrong and we think it should not be allowed."

The proposed change in insurance would affect new Anthem customers, individuals, and groups with fewer than 50 people.

Chris Dugan from Anthem says "at the end of the day, because of the arrangement that we have, we are able to provide lower rates. And we think people deserve to have lower insurance rates."

Dugan estimates 9,000 people will be affected if the narrow network is approved.

Hundreds of people came to to sit in front of the bureau at Thursday's hearing, but CMCC's lecture hall had reached maximum capacity.
Dozens were unable to get in but many who were already inside gave up their position to patients and providers who wanted to speak.

A practitioner out of Bridgton says, "you are cutting out an enormous amount of hospitals and enormous amount of providers and treating patients like sheep who are just getting trucked across the state to see someone else. It's just disgusting."

Helen Ness says she's had a tough time getting answers from Anthem and the bureau. And she foresees several issues if the plan is approved.

"This will increase wait time to see a new PCP because you'll call a doctor and inevitably you will hear someone say, who is doing the scheduling, our first available appointment for a new patient is... And it could be weeks in the future."

The Maine Bureau of Insurance Superintendent says all of the testimony provided under oath at this hearing could have an impact on the final decision.

Anthem patients who have purchased their policies before March 2010 are grandfathered so they will not have to change doctors.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance will hold a final hearing on the Anthem plan on September 9th. That will be at the Cross State Office Building in Augusta.

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