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Aetna Follows DOJ’s Lead And Files Antitrust Complaint Against Blue Cross Blue Shield

Posted  December 28, 2011

Health insurance giant Aetna, Inc. has filed a complaint in a Michigan federal district court claiming that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has engaged in a scheme to force Aetna to pay more for hospital services as part of a campaign to limit or reduce Aetna’s presence in Michigan.  The complaint, filed on December 6, 2011, comes just over a year after the U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Michigan commenced a civil antitrust lawsuit against Blue Cross containing similar allegations.

Aetna claims that Blue Cross, the largest insurer in Michigan, has used most-favored nation clauses in deals it has with hospitals to force those hospitals to charge Aetna up to 39 percent more, and in other instances, to require Aetna to raise its rates until they are as high as those charged by Blue Cross.  According to the DOJ’s complaint, roughly half of Michigan’s general acute care hospitals have most-favored nation clauses in their contracts with Blue Cross.

Blue Cross has denied doing anything wrong, and its Vice President of Corporate Communications, Andy Hetzel, called the complaint “sour grapes from a major national insurance company” trying to take advantage of the DOJ lawsuit.

The DOJ complaint was filed on October 18, 2010.  It has already survived Blue Cross’ motion to dismiss, though Blue Cross has appealed that decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Trial has been scheduled for February 2013.

Tagged in: Antitrust Litigation,