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News of the Day ... In Perspective

06/22/2006

Physicians’ suit against UnitedHealth dismissed

A federal judge dismissed all remaining claims in a class-action suit brought by 700,000 physicians, who claimed that UnitedHealth had unfairly cut their payments.

Over the seven years in which litigation has been pending, nearly every other insurer (including Aetna, Cigna, and WellPoint) had settled for hundreds of millions of dollars.

UnitedHealth argued that it had never used the claims-reimbursement software that was the focus of the class action. This software automatically reduced doctors’ bills to what the insurer thought it should pay.

“After reviewing thousands of documents, there is simply insufficient evidence of the wrongdoing claimed, i.e. agreeing with their competitors to defraud the doctors,” wrote Judge Federico A. Moreno of the Southern District of Florida.

UnitedHealth is still subject to litigation over other reimbursement practices, said Archie Lamb, co-lead counsel for the plaintiff physicians. Some of the nation’s most powerful law firms have turned their attention from tobacco companies to health insurers (Vanessa Fuhrman, Wall St J 6/20/06).

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