A federal judge has delayed until Sept. 13 the trial date for a class-action lawsuit filed against the nation's largest managed-care plans on behalf of about 900,000 physicians nationwide. Attorneys for the physicians had asked U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno in Miami to proceed with a June trial date, but attorneys for the health plans called the request an attempt to keep pressure on the companies to settle. The lawsuit alleges that the insurers -- Anthem, Coventry Health Care, Humana, PacifiCare Health Systems, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint Health Networks -- systematically delayed or denied payments to physicians. Aetna and Cigna Corp., also named as defendants, settled with the physicians for $570 million and $540 million, respectively. Decisions are expected before Sept. 13 on the HMOs' appeal to break up the class-action lawsuit and on a dispute over the trial's location. Moreno plans to ask a national panel of judges to decide whether he should keep the case after three years of pretrial supervision. -- by Laura B. Benko
Health plans win delay in physicians' lawsuit
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