Law360 (March 19, 2019, 10:30 PM EDT) — Health care provider class attorneys on Tuesday alerted an Alabama federal judge to recent Anthem Corp. testimony in Delaware that they say contradicts Blue Cross Blue Shield Association denials that the group’s rules, including nationwide limits on member revenues from “non-Blue” businesses, are anticompetitive.
The concern appeared in a notice filed in a multidistrict litigation antitrust case against BCBS companies in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. The notice recapped developments during a 10-day Chancery Court trial over dueling damages claims following the collapse of the $54 billion Anthem Inc.-Cigna Corp. merger in 2017.
Witnesses for Anthem — largest of the nation’s BCBS companies — were described as giving seemingly contradictory testimony on the association’s “National Best Efforts” rule during the Delaware trial. The rule bars the association’s 36 members from deriving more than a third of their revenues from non-Blue ventures.
Although Anthem and other Blues have defended the practice as legal in the MDL, the provider attorneys noted that Anthem General Counsel Thomas C. Zielinski testified in Delaware that the company “had internally concluded that those rules were anticompetitive, and even considered a challenge to the legality of those rules,” dubbed a “nuclear option” in one instance.