NU Online News Service, Feb. 3, 2004, 5:57 p.m. EST – CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia, has escaped from the Miami managed care litigation.[@@]

CIGNA has received final approval from U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno for a settlement agreement that resolves litigation with more than 700,000 doctors, according to an announcement from the lawyers who have organized the litigation.

The litigation organizers filed suits accusing CIGNA and other managed care companies of working together to lower and delay payments to doctors in unreasonable ways.

The settlement agreement calls for CIGNA to improve communications with doctors, and to clarify and streamline its system for handling claims. The parties involved estimate the changes in practices have a value of about $400 million.

CIGNA also has agreed to pay doctors a minimum of $85 million and to help start a health care foundation.

In 2003, Aetna Inc., Hartford, agreed to pay $100 million to the doctors, or about $140 per doctor; and contribute $20 million to a health quality foundation to resolve its share of the managed care suits now being heard on a consolidated basis in Miami. Lawyers began organizing suits in 1999. The federal courts put many of the suits under Moreno’s jurisdiction in October 2000.