The lawsuit, which began in late August and is still in the document stage, is filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. On Oct. 26 AHIP filed a number of new documents, including one that requests that a date be set for oral arguments on the case and another that opposes the AMA and MAG efforts to intervene.
Last week I spoke with Robert Zirkelbach, an AHIP spokesperson. He is quick to note that the suit is not an issue about how quickly doctors are paid. "We want physicians to be paid in a timely manner for their services."
This lawsuit, he says, is about preserving the sanctity of ERISA and "enabling self-funded employers to offer affordable, uniform benefits to their employees."
AHIP's concern, Zirkelbach explains, is that without ERISA protection, employers (and health plans) could face a patchwork of insurance laws and that would create "a very troubling precedent." He added that Georgia lawsuit is about "who governs ERISA plans. Longstanding federal law states very clearly that these plans are governed at the federal level. This is not about how doctors are paid."
He noted that AHIP is asking the court to only throw out the part of the IDE Act that applies to self-funded employer plans.