CIGNA settlement favorable to psychologists


(Washington, D.C., December 14, 2004) - Psychologists saw a significant step forward in their ongoing effort to improve managed care administrative services and policies when CIGNA agreed to change its policies and procedures to better ensure easier and faster processing of transactions for claims as well as prompt payment for services. The changes were part of CIGNA's recent announcement of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by a class of non-physician health care providers, including psychologists.

"We're glad that CIGNA has been working to correct policies and procedures that affect behavioral health professionals in general and psychologists in particular, who provide services under their managed care system," says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., executive director for professional practice, American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO).

The suit alleges that the defendants violated federal law by conspiring to reduce and delay payments to these health professionals. CIGNA is one of a number of defendants. The APA Practice Organization, although not a party to the lawsuit, became a signatory to the settlement after engaging in the settlement talks to ensure that behavioral health issues were adequately addressed.

Through the settlement, CIGNA is the first of the defendants to agree to resolve a number of psychologists' long standing concerns. The company will use its website to make various transactions with psychologists and other health professionals easier and faster, while also making its operations and procedures more transparent. The agreement also includes updating the listing of psychologists in its network.

Additionally, CIGNA will pay $11.55 million to a settlement fund to be split among the class of non-physician providers, including psychologists, who provided services to subscribers of CIGNA or the other defendants from January 1, 1990 to the present. The settlement awaits court approval from U.S. District Court Judge Federico Moreno, Miami, Florida.

"While we hope that all of our eligible members will access the settlement fund, we believe that a very significant aspect of the agreement is that CIGNA has agreed to improve its way of doing business with psychologists," says Newman.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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