When a New York insurer excluded from its Medicare Advantage plan non-emergency treatment at one health system, that system took its case straight to consumers, running ads asking patients to choose plans that included its hospitals.
The insurer, in turn, took its case to court, accusing Catholic Health System of false and deceptive advertising, according to The Buffalo News.
Blue Cross BlueShield of Western New York agreed Wednesday to drop its lawsuit against Catholic Health System. The lawsuit had alleged Catholic Health System's billboards, newspaper ads and church bulletin notices incorrectly told consumers the BlueCross BlueShield plan excluded all Catholic Health System facilities, according to the newspaper. In reality, the plan still covered emergency care at Catholic Health System hospitals, just not non-emergency care at the hospitals, The Buffalo News said.
BlueCross BlueShield agreed to walk away from the lawsuit as part of the terms of its renewal of a three-year contract with Catholic Health System, said Kyle Rogers, manager of corporate relations for the insurer.
“The issue was resolved to our satisfaction,” Rogers said.
A Catholic Health System spokesman declined to comment Wednesday. Buffalo-based Catholic Health System has four Western New York hospitals and had operating revenue of $954 million in 2014, according to Modern Healthcare's financial database.
But is it possible other, similar lawsuits over advertising could be filed elsewhere in the future as networks narrow? Maybe.
Peter Rich, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, said it's becoming increasingly common for providers left out of health plans to advertise that fact to consumers, though he said he hasn't yet heard of too many lawsuits over the issue.