NU Online News Service, Dec. 10, 2003, 1:35 p.m. EST – U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno has given lawyers who say they represent 700,000 doctors permission to proceed with litigation against a group of 6 large managed care companies.[@@]

The organizers of the litigation, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court in Miami, filed suits in 1999 that accused the managed care companies of working together to confuse doctors, negotiate unfair provider contracts, and lower and delay payments to doctors in unreasonable ways.

Moreno’s new order dismisses some of the doctors’ state prompt-pay claims, some claims brought on behalf of doctors who provided out-of-network care, claims based on the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and some other claims, but it leaves most of the doctors’ complaint intact.

Aetna Inc., Hartford, and CIGNA Corp., have gotten out of the case by negotiating separate settlements with the doctors.

The remaining plaintiffs are Anthem Inc., Indianapolis; Coventry Health Care Inc., Bethesda, Md.; Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky.; PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., Cypress, Calif.; UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn.; and WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The Miami court has posted a link to Moreno’s order at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/default.asp?file=cases/index.html