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BCBS Restricts Competition, Suit Charges

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, August 3, 2012

Not too surprisingly, both the trade group and the Alabama Blues are dismissing the merits of the suit. "Our company operates in compliance with a license from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association," said Koko Mackin, vice president of corporate communications for the Alabama Blues. "We comply with all state and federal laws. The allegations have no merit."

Kelly Miller, a spokesperson for the trade group says the suit has "no merit and we will vigorously defend the Blue Cross Blue Shield model."

The suit seeks damages equal to three times the unspecified amount of damages suffered by the plaintiffs. It also asks the court to stop the defendants from entering into or enforcing any agreements that restrict the territories or geographic regions where a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association member "may plan to compete."

The suit was filed in U.S District Court, Northern District of Alabama by Whatley Kallas, LLC, which has offices in several cities across the country, including New York and Birmingham. Its website describes the firm as a "healthcare boutique" whose lawyers have focused their practices on "litigating against, and negotiating with, health insurers across the country on a wide range of issues."

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