PRUDENTIAL: Sued By Florida Docs Over Late Payments
A group of doctors in Jacksonville, FL, and two of the state's physician associations are suing Prudential Healthcare for late payments. The plaintiffs -- North Florida Obstetrical & Gynecological Association, the Florida Physicians Association and the Florida Medical Association -- charge Prudential with systematically withholding millions of dollars, "enrich[ing] itself at the expense of Florida doctors." The Florida Times-Union reports that the class-action suit "seeks back interest on delayed payments and additional damages." Florida Medical Association spokesperson Philip Gilbert said Prudential's "practices place greater emphasis on profits than patient care." Officials at New Jersey-based Prudential said they were surprised by the suit. "We have an excellent track record on claim payments across Florida. We pay 92.3% of all claims within 30 days," said Julie Chalpan, a spokesperson for the insurer.
Only The First
Don Weidner, executive director of the Florida Physicians Association, said the suit against Prudential is only the first step in cracking down on late payments from HMOs. "Prudential is far from the only company engaging in these practices," Weidner said. "If we find evidence we'll file suit (against others) as well." Florida Association of HMOs President Richard Dorff "flatly rejected the notion that insurers are systematically delaying payments" (Bryant-Friedland, 7/22).