A Medical Device Daily

Luminetx (Memphis, Tennessee) and AccuVein (Cold Spring Harbor, New York) reported a settlement agreement that resolves the legal disputes between them relating to Luminetx's patent. AccuVein has agreed to license the Luminetx patents. Both companies said that the resolution was in the best interest of their companies and their customers allowing them to offer their products to this growing worldwide marketplace. The remaining terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Luminetx develops medical product and biometric technologies. Its VeinViewer, is a mobile vascular imaging system designed to allow healthcare providers to clearly see accessible vasculature in real time directly on the surface of the skin ideally suited for clinical treatments and procedures including, but not limited to: IV insertions, PICC line insertions, routine venipuncture (blood sampling), blood and plasma donations and treatment for varicose and spider veins.

AccuVein says it applies advanced technologies to important healthcare challenges. Its AV300 allows practitioners to see a map on the patient's skin of the position of peripheral veins, helping caregivers locate these veins while they perform the most common invasive medical procedure – venipuncture.

In other legalities, Health law firm Hooper, Lundy & Bookman (HLB) has filed complaints in state and federal court charging that Blue Cross of California and Anthem Blue Cross Life & Health Insurance used faulty data and systems to calculate inadequate reimbursement rates to Methodist Hospital of Southern California (Arcadia, California) for out-of-network emergency care, authorized post-stabilization care and other medical services provided to Blue Cross' HMO, PPO, and Blue Card members, and to beneficiaries of self-insured plans.

"Blue Cross has repeatedly underpaid Methodist Hospital for emergency and post-stabilization claims submitted after Methodist's contract terminated in December 2007," said Methodist Co-Counsel Daron Tooch. "We believe these underpayments are in great part the result of flawed internal data and payment systems Blue Cross uses to determine out-of-network reimbursement rates."

Because of the low payment rates and onerous terms in proposed hospital contracts, hospitals are increasingly deciding that they cannot afford to renew their contracts with health plans. Hospitals are nevertheless required to provide emergency care to patients, regardless of the patients' ability to pay. After patients' emergency condition was stabilized, Blue Cross often chose not to transfer the patients to in-network facilities, yet paid Methodist Hospital's claims as though the patients chose to have their care at a non-contracted facility, according to the complaint.

"If Blue Cross wanted to pay lower contracted rates for healthcare services provided to its stabilized members, then it should have transferred them to in-network facilities for their post-stabilization care," said Methodist Co-counsel Glenn Solomon. "Having voluntarily opted to have its members receive their post-stabilization care at Methodist Hospital, Blue Cross has an obligation to pay the bills rather than leaving that burden with its members."

The California suit charges Blue Cross with failure to adequately compensate Methodist Hospital for non-contracted emergency, post-stabilization, and continuity of care services, by using flawed data and/or improperly manipulating the data.

The federal complaint makes similar allegations with respect to Blue Card and self-insured plans, and includes charges that the defendants have violated ERISA and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.