Local Physician Stays "In Plan"

January 15, 2004  -- Posted at 11:30 p.m.

OSCEOLA — Reggie Collum has served the Osceola community for nearly 22 years.  Many locals say he is brings a big time medical practice to small town living.  But that could all change if Blue Cross Blue Shield have their way.  Late last year the insurance provider sent Collum and his patients letters saying Collum was going to be dropped from the network.

On Thursday Collum's offices recieved a call saying they would be allowed to stay in network for the time being while arbitration is began.  If it fails though Collum would most likely be dropped from the insurers in network list.  Collum's daughter, also the lead nurse practitioner, says they are hopeful this will all be over soon enough.  And they are considering today's phone call good news.

Collum's office was packed late on Thursday.  Most of the patients saying they had known Collum their entire lives.  For most loosing Collum would be a disaster they would rather not be forced to live with.  One patient, Larry Brewer, says despite his numerous medical needs he would continue to see Collum in or out of the network.  He says Collum was there when he needed a new doctor several years ago and is thankful for that.  Saying, "Collum cares about you as a person...not just as a patient."

Collum spent the afternoon heading down to Little Rock where his clinic's fate is being decided.  He has been forced to leave his patients behind in order to fight to keep his doors open.  In an earlier interview he did not know what the fate of the clinic would be if he is forced out of the network but did not rule out closing down for good.

With the call, Collum's clinic is still included in the Blue Cross Blue Shield network.  He says service has not been interupted and patients should not worry about having their medical needs covered.