Judge allows withdrawal of settlement between Highmark, ratepayers

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U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti today granted the withdrawal of a proposed settlement between Royal Mile Co. and other health insurance ratepayers on one hand, and Highmark on the other.

The would-be class action lawsuit was filed in 2010 and claimed Highmark and UPMC conspired to control the healthcare market and charge excessive premiums and reimbursement rates, respectively.

Under the settlement, Highmark would have paid $4.5 million to attorneys for the ratepayers. Highmark would also have guaranteed to support competition between insurers in the market and provide the plaintiffs' lawyers with documents and testimony that they could use against the other defendant, UPMC.

But plaintiffs' attorneys later said the settlement didn't reflect new value, because Highmark was already planning to take the pro-competitive steps independent of the agreement. Highmark initially opposed nixing the settlement. The insurer then withdrew its opposition, according to Judge Conti's order.

The suit is now being handled by Judge Conti in conjunction with other litigation between Highmark and UPMC.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord


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