On June 7, District Court Judge Denise Hood issued her highly anticipated ruling on Blue Cross of Michigan’s motion to dismiss the antitrust complaint filed against it by the DOJ Antitrust Division and the State of Michigan (United States of America v Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Case No. 2:10-cv-14155). The case challenges BCM’s use of “most favored nation” clauses in its provider contracts. Judge Hood denied BCM’s motion to dismiss the complaint, and at the same time denied as moot BCM’s motion to stay discovery pending her ruling on the motion to dismiss. As such, discovery in the matter – which is expected to be extensive, as the DOJ previously indicated an intention to take up to 100 depositions – will now commence.
Judge Hood’s decision was announced in open court at a hearing in a related case, City of Pontiac v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and later memorialized in a Minute Order that provided no explanation of the basis for her ruling. Judge Hood indicated during the hearing, however, that she intends to issue a written ruling that reflects her analysis of BCM’s motion, but that the ruling has not yet been finalized. In the interim, as indicated above, discovery in the case will commence. Judge Hood’s analysis, once it issues, is likely to receive considerable scrutiny, given that over the last several months the DOJ has now reportedly commenced investigations of several other Blue Cross entities as well concerning their use of “most favored nation” clauses.