Law360, New York (October 12, 2016, 4:24 PM EDT) — Three months after the Sixth Circuit vacated a $30 million federal class action settlement resolving antitrust claims against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the parties on Tuesday unveiled a new settlement agreement for the same amount of money.
Under the amended deal, BCBS Michigan denies all claims and says it decided to settle the six-year-old case to avoid further expenses and the burden of litigation. The plaintiffs — direct purchasers of allegedly overpriced health care services — said that a settlement is in the best interest of the class.
The Sixth Circuit remanded the case in early July, vacating the Michigan federal court’s approval of the settlement after 26 self-insured companies whose health care claims had been administered by BCBS Michigan objected to the process under which the previous settlement was reached.
They’d claimed that hundreds of documents had been kept sealed and out of public view and that the settlement itself provided only meager relief to about 8 million potential class members. In its July ruling, the Sixth Circuit also vacated the district court’s orders sealing the documents in question.
In August, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood denied the 26 companies’ request to intervene in the suit as it proceeded on remand, finding that the Sixth Circuit’s opinion hadn’t addressed their right to intervene, only the unsealing of court records.
The Sixth Circuit didn’t indicate that the parties had to renegotiate the settlement or conduct further discovery to present a new settlement proposal. Instead, the panel told the district court to start the approval process anew, the judge said.
The case dates back to 2010 and was one of several actions challenging the insurer’s use of “most favored nation” clauses, which require hospitals to charge BCBS’ rival insurers at least as much as they charged BCBS Michigan. In exchange for the clauses, the insurer agreed to pay the hospitals higher rates, the suit said.