NU Online News Service, Dec. 16, 2003, 1:32 p.m. EST – The Maine Bureau of Insurance says it will be collecting a $900,000 fine from CIGNA Healthcare of Maine Inc. and CIGNA Behavioral Health.[@@]

The companies, units of CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia, have accepted a consent decree that calls for them to pay the fines, according to Maine insurance regulators.

The CIGNA units also have agreed to pay about $915,000 in restitution of interest to affected claimants, the regulators say.

Maine regulators have accused the CIGNA units of violating the Maine health insurance “prompt pay” law and related laws and regulations in 2001 and 2002. Maine’s prompt pay law requires insurers to pay undisputed claims within 30 days of receipt and to add interest to late payments.

Maine takes violations of the prompt pay law seriously, Maine Insurance Superintendent Alessandro Iuppa says in a statement.

“Doctors and patients should not have to spend time worrying about an insurance company paying its bills on time,” Iuppa says.

Maine also has accused the CIGNA units of failing to take active steps to market individual health coverage.

CIGNA spokeswoman Lindsay Shearer says CIGNA has been making aggressive efforts in recent years to correct payment problems and the other problems cited by Maine regulators.

“CIGNA HealthCare has a commitment to paying providers on a timely basis,” Shearer says.