A federal appeals court on Thursday refused to issue an interim stay in the UnitedHealthcare case and has referred the matter to a three-judge panel. The case focuses on a plan by the nation's largest health insurer to cut thousands of Connecticut doctors from its Medicare Advantage network on Feb. 1. On Dec. 5, a U.S. District judge in Bridgeport issued a preliminary injunction that halted the cuts for members of two doctor associations that took UnitedHealthcare to court. The insurer appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and asked for an "emergency" stay of the lower-court order — and an "interim" stay until that request is decided.