updated 9/21/2010 5:15:36 AM ET 2010-09-21T09:15:36

NEW YORK, Sept. 20, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On September 20, 2010, Judge Lawrence M. McKenna of the Southern District of New York issued an order granting final approval of an historic $350 million class action settlement with UnitedHealth Group ("UnitedHealth"), resolving a nearly decades-long challenge to its practices involving reimbursement for health care services by out-of-network providers. Pomerantz Haudek Grossman & Gross LLP ("Pomerantz") ( www.pomerantzlaw.com ), which served as co-lead counsel in the action from its beginning in 2000, was previously appointed by the Court as Lead Settlement Class Counsel.

"We have spent years of effort litigating this case and are grateful that the Judge recognized how valuable this settlement truly is," says Pomerantz partner D. Brian Hufford, who has overseen the litigation from its inception. "We believe that the $350 million settlement, which will grow to more than $362 million after guaranteed interest is added, represents the largest single health care settlement ever reached, and we are very proud to have achieved it," he adds. 

In addition to the monetary component, the settlement also includes substantial injunctive relief which will alter how the industry determines usual, customary and reasonable ('UCR") rates for out-of-network health care services. The injunctive remedies were negotiated in conjunction with an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, prompted by the class litigation, into UnitedHealth's use of its Ingenix database for making benefit determinations.

In the action, Pomerantz represented not only a number of health care subscribers and providers, but also various medical associations and New York State-based unions which supported the settlement. The medical associations included the American Medical Association, the Medical Society of the State of New York and the Missouri State Medical Association, while the union plaintiffs included the Civil Service Employees Association, New York State Police Investigators Association, New York State United Teachers, and the Organization of New York State Management/ Confidential Employees.

"With final approval, the Claims Administrator can now begin the important step of processing the claims that are coming in from class members so that we can move toward disseminating the settlement proceeds," says Pomerantz partner Robert J. Axelrod, who has worked jointly with Mr. Hufford in prosecuting the litigation. "The necessary claim forms can be obtained from the website we have established concerning the settlement, at www.UnitedUCRsettlement.com ."

Pomerantz is continuing to litigate similar actions against other insurers. Judge Faith Hochberg of the District of New Jersey appointed Pomerantz as Chair of the Plaintiffs' Executive Committee in a comparable action against Aetna, and Pomerantz has also been designated as co-lead counsel on behalf of healthcare providers in litigations pending against CIGNA and Wellpoint in New Jersey and California, respectively. Pomerantz was also co-lead counsel and the designated Plaintiffs' spokesman to the Court in a similar case against Health Net on behalf of subscribers, which settled before Judge Hochberg in 2008, with an estimated value of approximately $250 million. In addition, Pomerantz has recently brought actions against a number of Blue Cross Blue Shield entities, as well as Aetna, challenging their practices of making improper repayment demands and recouping previously paid benefits from providers.

For further information concerning the settlement, please contact Mr. Hufford at 212.661.1100, or dbhufford@pomlaw.com.

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