A $128 million settlement agreement between 23 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and physicians across the country will, if approved, resolve several class-action lawsuits that had been consolidated into one case pending in U.S. District Court in Miami. The first lawsuits were filed more than three years ago and dealt with payment and appeal policies, denial and delay of payments, medical guidelines and other concerns. In an American Medical Association news release, AMA President William Plested, M.D., says that the settlement resolves contentious business practices that have long frustrated physicians and jeopardized the delivery of quality patient care.
But Michael Pope, a spokesman for the plans involved in the settlement and an attorney with McDermott Will & Emery, noted that this is not an admission that anything said in the complaint is true. My clients came to me and said, We dont do the things that they say we do, but it doesnt do anyone any good to have this litigation, Pope says. Pope says he expected the money to be released by year-end, and that physicians filing claims can designate that their share of the settlement be paid to them or to a charity of their choosing.
Settling plans will also pay court-determined legal fees up to $49 million, according to a news release.