BRIDGEPORT — On December 5, federal court Judge Stefan Underhill issued a decision granting members of the Fairfield County Medical Association and Hartford County Medical Association a preliminary injunction preventing UnitedHealthcare from unilaterally cutting hundreds of doctors from the insurer’s Medicare Advantage Network.
The two medical associations filed the legal challenge in early November seeking to block UnitedHealthcare from terminating as many as 2,250 physicians, or approximately 20 percent of its entire doctor network in Connecticut. The associations estimated that as many as 20,000 to 30,000 Medicare patients could be impacted by UnitedHealthcare’s decision to eliminate a significant portion of its physicians in Connecticut.
The preliminary injunction order prohibits UnitedHealthcare from terminating any of the Associations’ members from the Medicare Advantage Network, notifying their Medicare Advantage customers/insured that certain providers will be terminated from Medicare Advantage Network as of February 1, 2014; and removing or failing to advertise/market the Association’s affected physicians in UnitedHealthcare’s 2014 directories for the Medicare Advantage Network.
“Both the Fairfield and Hartford County Medical Associations took this bold step for our patients and for our member physicians. We won’t let UnitedHeathcare get away with interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. While this is one huge step in the right direction, the journey is far from over,” said Robin Oshman, MD, president of the Fairfield County Medical Association in response to the judge’s decision.
A spokesperson for UnitedHealthcare said the company intends to appeal the ruling.
“We believe the court’s ruling will create unnecessary and harmful confusion and disruption to Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut,” said Jessica Pappas, a spokeswoman for UnitedHealthcare, in a statement.