Plan accuses docs of 'smear campaign,' steering away members

In a breakdown of payer and provider relations, Albuquerque, N.M.-based Lovelace Health Plan is suing physician group ABQ Health Partners, claiming the doctors are trying to guide patients to leave Lovelace for other insurers.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in state court by Lovelace's parent company Lovelace Health System, comes after failed contract negotiations between the insurer and the 184-doctor practice. ABQ HP ended its contract effective Nov. 8, reported the Albuquerque Journal.

"ABQ HP is engaged in a smear campaign against Lovelace in an effort to mislead and confuse Lovelace's members … for the purpose of causing them to sever their relationship with Lovelace in favor of a health plan that ABQ HP now accepts," the lawsuit said. Lovelace now seeks to prohibit ABQ HP from engaging in those misleading marketing tactics, the New Mexico Business Journal reported.

Lovelace specifically accused ABQ HP of sending mass mailings to its members "encouraging them to sever their relationship with Lovelace in favor of remaining with ABQ HP by switching to another health plan provider." The insurer claimed it would suffer undetermined financial losses because of these tactics.

To learn more:
- read the Albuquerque Journal article
- see the New Mexico Business Journal article