State Files Brief in Support of Physicians in United Healthcare Appeal
Attorney General, Healthcare Advocate urge appeals court
to affirm injunction against provider terminations
The state of Connecticut has a significant interest in protecting vulnerable citizens and preventing the potential poor health outcomes that would result from United Healthcare’s unprecedented termination of physicians from its Medicare Advantage Plan network, Attorney General George Jepsen and state Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri argue in a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today.
“The unlawful and disorderly terminations have threatened wholesale disruption to continuity of care for thousands of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens,” they wrote to the court. “Disruption to continuity of care is highly detrimental, especially for the elderly and those suffering from chronic and debilitating conditions.”
The amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief was filed in support of the Fairfield and Hartford County Medical Associations, who were awarded a preliminary injunction against the terminations by a federal judge earlier this month. United has appealed the court’s decision.
In their brief, the Attorney General and Healthcare Advocate argue that the District Court correctly found that, in the absence of injunctive relief, United would cause irreparable harm to the physician-patient relationship between the medical society members and thousands of Connecticut residents.
“The sheer size and scope of the physician terminations are, in the State Amici’s experience, unprecedented in Connecticut,” they wrote. “Though United has refused to disclose to Connecticut the exact number of physicians terminated or the number of enrollees affected, the District Court found that United has unilaterally, and without proper cause, terminated more than 2,000 physicians from its MAP. The number of Connecticut patients directly affected by these terminations by virtue of an existing relationship with a terminated physician is estimated at or near 10,000.”
The Attorney General and Healthcare Advocate said that, in addition to the confusion created by United’s terminations, they remain concerned that the remaining network is insufficient to meet the needs of all Medicare Advantage enrollees. They believe there is a broader public interest in protecting the health and well-being of Connecticut citizens.
A hearing on the appeal is expected to be held in January 2014.
Assistant Attorneys General Thomas Ryan and Charles Hulin, with Special Counsel Robert Clark and Solicitor General Gregory D’Auria, are assisting the Attorney General with this matter.
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