Trial Date Delayed for Lawsuit Filed by Physicians Against HMOs
Judge Federico Moreno of the Federal District Court in Miami on Monday delayed until Sept. 13 the trial date for a class-action lawsuit filed against several large health plans on behalf of about 950,000 physicians nationwide, the AP/Florida Times-Union reports. Attorneys for the physicians had asked Moreno to proceed with a June trial date for the lawsuit, but attorneys for the HMOs called the request an "attempt to keep pressure" on the companies to settle the case (AP/Florida Times-Union, 1/5). In the lawsuit, the physicians allege that the health plans -- UnitedHealthcare, Coventry Health Care, WellPoint Health Networks, Humana Health Plan, PacifiCare Health Systems and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield -- delayed or denied reimbursements for health services and illegally rejected claims for necessary medical treatments as part of a racketeering conspiracy. Aetna and Cigna, which also were named as defendants in the lawsuit, have settled with the physicians for a total of $1.01 billion (California Healthline, 12/10/03). Attorneys for the physicians and the health plans expect decisions before Sept. 13 on an appeal from the companies to remove class-action status from the lawsuit and on a dispute over the venue of the trial. Moreno plans to ask a national panel of judges whether he should continue to preside over the lawsuit when the case proceeds to trial. In addition, Moreno added two months to the discovery phase of the lawsuit (AP/Florida Times-Union, 1/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.