WASHINGTON BUREAU — A lawsuit over coverage for applied behavioral analysis (ABA), a therapy used for treating autism, has won class-action status in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
The plaintiffs in the case, Churchill vs. CIGNA, Number 10-6911 (Eastern District of Pennsylvania), allege that CIGNA HealthCare, a unit of CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia (NYSE:CI), wrongly denied coverage for ABA therapy.
U.S. District Judge Juan Sanchez certified the case for class-action status in a memorandum ruling.
Class-action status is appropriate because CIGNA had a national policy of denying coverage for ABA therapy on the ground that ABA therapy is experimental, Sanchez says in an opinion explaining the ruling.
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The plaintiffs, enrollees in employer-sponsored plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), are seeking reimbursement for denied claims and injunctive relief to stop the ABA coverage exclusion.
At CIGNA, “we do not comment on pending litagation,” said Joe Monday, a company spokesman.