Connecticut's Fairfield County Medical Association has filed a class-action lawsuit in Danbury Superior Court against three health insurers alleging that the companies' physician designation programs damage non-designated physicians' reputations and steer patients to certain specialists regardless of the quality of care provided, the AP/Connecticut Post reports. The lawsuit names Cigna, UnitedHealth Group and Oxford Heath, which recently was acquired by UnitedHealth. The suit contends that the program implements a tiered network under which physicians in certain specialties -- including endocrinology, dermatology, obstetrics and others -- are designated as "elite," and patients are charged reduced copayments for choosing those doctors. Claudia Gruss, chair of the FCMA board of trustees, asserts that the insurers base physician designations on insurance claims data, not on evaluations of patient care. UnitedHealth and Oxford have not yet implemented the program, according to the association. Burton Rubin, FCMA president, said the lawsuit seeks to prevent the companies from establishing it. The suit also is seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages.
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