Anthem Can Settle Dentists' Suit for $3.8M

     (CN) - A federal judge has approved a $3.8 million settlement to claims that Anthem Health Plans underpaid Connecticut dentists in violation of provider agreements.
     A group of dentists and dental associations sued Anthem Health Plans Inc. dba Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Connecticut, alleging that the health plan provider had underpaid them.
     The Connecticut State Dental Association, which also settled a lawsuit against Anthem, said that "the primary allegation in both lawsuits was that Anthem violated its contracts with participating Connecticut dentists by underpaying those dentists for services they provided to Anthem dental plan members."
     U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno in Miami approved the settlement and certified the class for settlement purposes only after holding a hearing in September.
     The class includes all dentists and dental groups and organizations that provided services to members of Anthem's dental plans between April 15, 1996, and April 14, 2002. More than 2,300 Connecticut dentists are potential claimants, the CSDA says.
     Moreno said the settlement was fair, reasonable and adequate, and that the class representatives adequately protected the interests of the class.
     If implemented, the settlement prohibits members of the class from asserting any of the settled claims against Anthem.
     Anthem will have to pay $600,000 to attorneys representing the class, and $45,000 to class representatives, the 18-page order states.
     To improve transparency and communication in the claim-payment process, Anthem has also agreed to modify and enhance certain administrative practices, the CSDA said.
     Moreno dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, but acknowledged Anthem's rights to oppose class certification or seek modification of the class if the settlement is not implemented for any reason.
     Anthem may also terminate the settlement agreement according to the terms of the contract, according to the order.