BCBS of Michigan wants anti-trust lawsuit dismissed

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan wants a federal court to dismiss an anti-trust lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice and the Michigan Attorney General's office because it fails to demonstrate the insurer's alleged anti-competitive actions caused economic harm.

"The government's lawsuit is deficient and should be dismissed as a matter of law," said Jeffrey Rumley, chief legal counsel at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, notes Business Review West Michigan.

Rumley also said the lawsuit is "so ambiguous it can't meet fundamental legal requirements." The case did not identify specific insurance products in precise markets to prove that competing insurers were forced to pay more for hospital services, according to the Detroit Free Press. He called the suit instead a "lump and dump approach."

Blue Cross Blue Shield also claims in its motion that, because it was formed by state law and is heavily regulated by the state, it's protected from federal anti-trust lawsuits under case precedents handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Their blunderbuss challenge to every hospital agreement containing a [most-favored-nation clause] threatens Blue Cross's long-term ability to serve its millions of Michigan subscribers consistent with its statutory obligations," the motion states.

State law requires Blue Cross, as the "insurer of last resort," to provide health coverage to everybody who applies, regardless of their health status, Business Review reports.

"This case attacks Blue Cross's efforts to ensure that it is obtaining the best possible prices from hospitals--prices at least as good as, and hopefully better than, others," it said in the filing, adding that nothing in anti-trust law bars its practices, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

To learn more:
- read the Detroit Free Press article
- check out the West Michigan Business story
- see the Bloomberg Businessweek piece

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