Separate antitrust lawsuits in Ohio and Kentucky filed by Cincinnati-area doctors against health plans have survived a few important judicial hurdles, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.
This week, a Kentucky judge denied the health plans' motion to dismiss the lawsuit, according to Richard Wayne, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
Previously, Wayne says, an Ohio judge denied plans' motion to send the issue to arbitration with each individual practice. Last week, the plans filed a motion to appeal the judge's decision and a motion to stay discovery, he adds.
While other lawsuits against health plans across the country have alleged racketeering and breach of contract, the Cincinnati suits take the unusual tack of suing plans for antitrust violations, Wayne says.
Wayne says the Cincinnati market is unusually consolidated, with 92% of the business going to four health plans that are defendants in the lawsuits: Aetna, Humana, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare.
The plaintiffs are the Academy of Medicine of Cincinnati, three other Ohio county medical societies, Northern Kentucky Medical Society and individual doctors, says Russell Dean Jr., executive director of the Cincinnati academy.
Dean says he knows of no other lawsuits against managed care plans that have been initiated by county societies. County and even some state societies have avoided lawsuits because of the legal costs, but Dean says Wayne and other attorneys have taken the cases on a contingency basis.