BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A collection of seven federal anti-trust lawsuits filed against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama — and two suits in other states — have been consolidated and Birmingham U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor has been appointed to preside over the case.
Blue Cross Blue Shield officials said their 38 Blue Plans nationwide are an effort by health insurers to create a national brand with separate companies in different areas.
The lawsuits claim Blue Cross Blue Shiled is in directly violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act which states: "Every contract, combination in the form of a trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal."
Plaintiffs in the lawsuits said the plans are actually independent companies that could compete against each other, but are instead divided among a single company. Blue Cross Blue Shield officials have called the lawsuits meritless.
Proctor also will preside over two lawsuits filed against the company in Tennessee and North Carolina.
The lawsuits have many potential repercussions for the health-care industry because Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of the biggest players in the industry.
According to Blue Cross Blue Shield of America, its 38 plans insure approximately 100 million, or one in three, Americans.
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