UnitedHealth continues Medicare Advantage network cuts after judge issues injunction

After a federal judge issued an injunction against UnitedHealthcare's attempt to drop about 19 percent of doctors from its Medicare Advantage network in Connecticut, the country's largest insurer says it's going ahead with plans to cut down the network.

UnitedHealth says the ruling only applies to doctors who are members of the associations that sued it--the Fairfield County Medical Association and the Hartford County Medical Association--which amounts to up to 60 percent of Connecticut doctors, reported the Hartford Courant.

"Complying with the order, as we work through the appeals process, consists of removing the termination date of Feb. 1 of the affected providers, or the providers and physicians that are affected by the court order," UnitedHealth spokesman Terence O'Hara told the Courant.

Plus, even if UnitedHealth agrees with the ruling to keep its doctors in network past its Feb. 1 drop date, it could still cut them on their contract anniversary as allowed under their contracts.

"The order itself doesn't prevent us from making these changes," O'Hara said. "It changed the timing and the nature in which we execute upon them."

But Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said he was disappointed with UnitedHealth's plans to continue with its network cuts. "I am extremely disappointed to learn that United intends to proceed with termination of those physicians who are not members of the two plaintiff medical associations, notwithstanding the fact that a federal court has held such terminations constitute contractual breaches that will cause irreparable harm to physicians, Connecticut Medicare patients and prospective enrollees," he said yesterday in a statement.

To learn more:
- read the Hartford Courant article
- see Jepsen's statement

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