A federal judicial panel has denied Cigna's efforts to settle a lawsuit brought by physicians against the company in a federal district court in southern Illinois.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Washington, D.C., on Monday ruled that the settlement must be overseen by federal Judge Federico Moreno, who is hearing dozens of lawsuits against Cigna and seven other health plans brought by 16 state medical societies in federal district court in Miami.
Cigna still stands behind the settlement, which won preliminary approval in November from federal Judge G. Patrick Murphy in East St. Louis, Ill., says Cigna spokesperson Wendell Potter.
"We're happy to have a decision and look forward to getting the settlement approval process back on track as soon as possible," Potter says. "Our ultimate goal is to present the merits of what we believe is a fair and good settlement to a federal court judge, and we are now looking forward to doing that in Florida."
But in the Miami court, medical societies will have a chance to voice their opposition to the agreement and push for their own settlement terms, which they have been hammering out with a few other health plans.
Under the proposed Cigna agreement, the company would reveal billing methodologies, drop certain coding practices and pay doctors $50 million to $200 million.
But the medical societies say the settlement falls short of their goal to completely overhaul the reimbursement procedures of health plans.
Edith Kallas, an attorney for the societies, says her side is in "serious" settlement talks with one unnamed plan and preliminary settlement talks with "a couple of others," but she would not provide details.
Kallas also says plaintiffs are collecting hundreds of boxes of documents from health plans through discovery, and a trial date for the lawsuits has been pushed back to November.