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Psychiatrist believes Anthem has monopoly on healthcare in metro Atlanta, raises concerns over minority access

A psychiatrist believes Anthem has a monopoly on healthcare in the area due to lower rates, and that it's impacting the health and well being of African Americans.

ATLANTA — A metro-area woman believes she's the only Black woman psychiatrist in the Interstate 285 radius who accepts Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield because of what she calls "low provider reimbursement rates."

"I think there has to be a deliberate commitment to ensuring that the members in a particular city are represented by the providers in that city," Dr. Sherri Broadwater said.

Dr. Sherri Broadwater owns Healing for All, and she thinks minority representation is an issue in mental healthcare.

Anthem is already in hot water in a Northside Hospital lawsuit. Cherokee County joined that lawsuit as a plaintiff Friday. 

The healthcare provider and hospital haven't agreed to a new contract, which puts the coverage of more than 400,000 patients at risk.

"With the number of African American people in this city, and that's 50% that are African American, it is imperative that all insurance companies take into account the number of African American physicians," Broadwater said. 

Broadwater is a child, teen, and adult psychiatrist who believes Anthem has a monopoly on healthcare in the Atlanta area due to lower rates, and she thinks this is impacting the health and well being of the African American population. 

"I'm a part of a fairly large group of African American psychiatrists here in Atlanta, and it's an ongoing conversation amongst us that the very low reimbursement rates don't allow us to provide care to our community," Broadwater said. 

Broadwater said it's important for patients to have doctors they can identify with. 

"African American women are disproportionately affected by adverse childhood experiences," Broadwater said. "We know that if those things are not treated, then there's a higher rate of asthma, kidney disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, as well as unemployment, and no health insurance."

Broadwater hopes Anthem will raise rates.

"I would like them to raise all of the rates for everyone and be required to maintain an increase in their rates to commensurate with inflation rates," Broadwater continued. "There have been no increases to any behavioral health provider since 2017."

11Alive reached out to Anthem for comment, but we haven't heard back yet. They previously sent this statement about the Northside Hospital lawsuit:

Our members can rest assured knowing that we cover emergency care, including treatment for COVID, at any provider, whether that provider chooses to be in our network or not. Ensuring access to care is why we began negotiations early and have been working in good faith for seven months to reach a new agreement with Northside. We have given Northside a proposal with generous increases – one they could sign immediately – yet they have refused. Northside wishes to continue operating under a contract that will not achieve the affordability or quality improvements we have been seeking, and our members deserve. We’d like Northside to join us in focusing solely on reaching an agreement that is in the best interests of consumers.