A federal judge in Newark has granted final approval to a $160 million settlement on behalf of out-of-network ambulatory surgical centers, in connection with a legal battle with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.
Some patients received services from the centers even though the centers were outside of their Horizon Blue health plan provider networks. The surgical centers accused Horizon of failing to provide adequate reimbursement for services rendered to those patients.
U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty approved the settlement terms and granted $9 million in legal fees on Friday.
The move ended a 12-year legal battle.
The suit that just settled, Edwards v. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, was filed in February 2013.
That case was filed after a proposed $22 million settlement of another suit making similar claims, Glen Ridge SurgiCenter v. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, fell through in 2010. More than 60% of the roughly 150 class members in the Glen Ridge suit refused to be a part of the settlement.
When the Edwards complaint was filed, the plaintiffs had obtained some evidence that the plaintiffs who filed the Glen Ridge complaint did not have: documents related to a 2003 decision by Horizon to save money on its payments to ambulatory surgical centers, and documents related to the company’s hiring of a consultant. The consultant set new reimbursement rates in order to realize the surgical center reimbursement savings.
The Edwards class argued that the consultant’s plan failed to consider applicable laws, regulations and contract terms.
Horizon denied the allegations.
The Edwards settlement terms, first filed with the court in January, were reached following mediation with former U.S. District Judge Stephen Orlofsky, who is with Blank Rome in Princeton.