Late last month, a federal judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, concluding the plaintiffs did not establish the Detroit-based insurer conspired to lower reimbursement.
Anesthesia Associates of Ann Arbor (A4) originally sued the Blues in 2020, alleging the Detroit-based insurer schemed to pay anesthesiologists below market rate and colluded with hospitals to bar anesthesiologists that charged more than BCBSM's reimbursement rate — resulting in lower quality of care and higher prices for consumers.
"We are pleased with the court's ruling and look forward to defending against the remaining claims," Helen Stojic, director of corporate affairs for BCBSM, wrote in an emailed statement to Crain's.
It's unclear whether the case will continue in a different court alleging state law violations.
A4 was represented in the case by Boies Schiller Flexner LLP of New York. The Boies Schiller firm is chaired by David Boies, who was special counsel in the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit in 1998 and represented former vice president Al Gore in the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.
Representatives from the firm did not return several calls and emails to comment on the matter.
The original lawsuit was struck down in 2021 by federal Judge Terrance Berg for lack of evidence that BCBSM conspired with hospitals to avoid contracting with A4 after the practice left the insurer's network.
But the judge allowed the anesthesiologist group to refile the suit alleging BCBSM created a monopsony by becoming the state's largest insurer and dictating market prices to a point that lead to a mass exodus of anesthesiologists in the state and thus endangering patients. The group filed an amended suit on Sept. 28 last year.
The A4 lawsuit stemmed from a negotiation breakdown between the practice and BCBSM in Oct. 2020. A day after BCBSM declined to renegotiate with A4, Trinity Health Michigan President and CEO Rob Casalou invoked a clause in its five-year contract to terminate A4 in 180 days. Trinity said after that period, the eight-hospital regional health system would hire its own employed anesthesiologists.
The lawsuit alleged Trinity was induced by BCBSM to terminate the contract.
Lawyers for A4 asked the court to award unspecified treble damages for BCBSM's "tortuous conduct" that would seek to destroy A4 financially.