Law360 (April 17, 2019, 6:22 PM EDT) — Health care providers and insurance subscribers asked an Alabama federal judge to certify several classes in their sprawling litigation accusing the Blue Cross Blue Shield network of stifling hospital reimbursements and hiking purchasers’ premiums with a scheme to divvy the market among its members.
The groups centered Monday’s certification bids on Alabama hospitals, physicians and companies, as the case against the network’s Alabama affiliate will be the first to go to trial, although dozens of other Blue Cross members across the country are targeted in the long-running multidistrict litigation centered on Blue Cross members’ alleged agreements to not compete with one another.
In that same vein, the provider group — which includes emergency services facilities, surgery centers, long-term health care facilities and doctors, among others — are only seeking damages for Alabama acute care hospitals for the time being, as counsel for the providers said there’s a “crucial need” for those facilities to get relief now.
“Acute care hospitals are all the same kind of entity facing the same kind of problems, and frankly, there’s a real emergency with respect to them,” Joe Whatley of Whatley Kallas LLP, representing the providers, told Law360 on Tuesday.
Those hospitals alone are owed nearly $4.4 billion from the insurance behemoth, the providers contend, and Whatley said for the six years this case has been pending, about a dozen of these hospitals have gone out of business in Alabama.