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Some Groups Oppose Cigna Settlement

December 11, 2002

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Medical societies from 17 states and several counties said Tuesday they oppose a settlement Cigna reached in an Illinois lawsuit, which opponents say would block a larger legal action against insurers.

``The terms of this settlement are a giant step backward compared to the HMO reforms we can win through the anti-racketeering lawsuit that now represents a certified class of more than 700,000 doctors and other significant state court actions,″ said Dr. Donald Timmerman, president of the Connecticut State Medical Society.

The groups issued a news release from New Orleans, where the American Medical Association House of Delegates was meeting.

The AMA House of Delegates itself maintained neutrality concerning the Cigna settlement in a resolution Tuesday.

Cigna announced Nov. 26 that it had reached a proposed agreement in the Illinois case, which accused the nation’s third-largest health insurer of underpaying doctors. Cigna said it would take a charge of at least $50 million to settle the lawsuit.

Attorneys representing about 700,000 doctors in the larger Florida suit have asked U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno for an injunction barring the settlement, which they called ``woefully inadequate.″

In the Miami case against Cigna and other insurers, doctors claim they are routinely shortchanged by a system that makes it costly and time-consuming to object to alleged underpayments.

Cigna said it wanted to devote more effort to cooperating with doctors than litigating, and promised in the settlement to make it easier to deal with the system. Connecticut-based Cigna HealthCare, a division of Philadelphia-based Cigna, said it would post additional explanations of claims coding and payment policies on its Web site, appoint a third-party administrator to review some claims, and establish a $10 million ``prompt pay fund″ for doctors whose payments were late.

Moreno has said he will decide by Friday whether to grant the injunction request.

Dr. David Nielsen of Alexandria, Va., executive vice president of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, said the AMA House of Delegates passed a resolution of neutrality Tuesday afternoon on a voice vote.

An earlier news release said 19 medical societies representing more than 200,000 doctors thought the settlement would fail to significantly change the way insurers do business with patients and doctors.

``The Cigna settlement comes up short in many ways,″ said Dr. Fred Merian, president of the Texas Medical Association. The groups included state medical societies from Texas, California, New York, Florida, Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Arizona, Louisiana, Alaska, Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina and Hawaii, and county medical societies from Colorado, Virginia and Texas.