Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan on Monday asked a federal court to dismiss Aetna's lawsuit that claims its hospital contracts are anti-competitive and therefore cause Aetna members' healthcare costs to increase.
Aetna filed the lawsuit, alleging Blue Cross uses its market dominance in Michigan to implement most-favored nation clauses with hospitals that forces them to charge Aetna more than the Blue Cross rate. Aetna also claims the Blues contracts have prevented Aetna from successfully expanding in the Michigan insurance market, including causing the insurer to stop selling health plans to small businesses in the state, reported the Detroit News.
In its motion, Blue Cross responded to Aetna's claims, saying the Hartford-based insurer isn't prohibited from contracting with hospitals in Michigan just because it successfully negotiates with hospitals to achieve discounts, Crain's Detroit Business reported.
"Rather than investing in the state like Blue Cross does, Aetna is resorting to litigation as a business strategy to tear down a competitor that is invested here," said Andrew Hetzel, Blue Cross vice president for corporate communications. "In contrast, Blue Cross is succeeding in Michigan by providing more health care value for customers' dollars. Our discounts - fairly negotiated with hospitals - are part of that value."
Aetna, however, stood its ground. Spokesman Scot Roskelley said the company sued because "there is strong evidence" that Blue Cross is "in violation of antitrust laws," according to the Detroit Free Press.