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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Forced to Pay for Autism Care In Landmark Case
Date:6/19/2009

DETROIT, June 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The family of an autistic child filed a motion in federal court today to confirm settlement of a class action against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The family alleged in the suit that the insurer wrongfully refused to cover behavioral therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), on the baseless ground that the care was "experimental."

Under the terms of the settlement reached at a court-ordered conference on Wednesday, June 17, 2009, Blue Cross has agreed to reimburse all families who paid for behavioral therapy for their children after May 1, 2003, and who were covered under a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan insurance policy. Blue Cross had earlier filed a motion seeking dismissal of virtually the entire case on legal grounds, but the Honorable Stephen J. Murphy III permitted the case to go forward and scheduled the matter for further proceedings, including a settlement conference before Magistrate Michael Hluchaniuk.

The settlement was reached in the case of Christopher Johns v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, 08-cv-12272, filed in Detroit. In the suit, the plaintiff alleged that Blue Cross' pattern and practice of characterizing the scientifically established Applied Behavioral Therapy as "experimental," and thus as excluded under its insurance policies, was arbitrary, capricious, illegal and contradicted by many years of scientific validation.

Under the settlement, Blue Cross will pay for behavioral therapy rendered to over 100 children in the last six years. Plaintiff's counsel, Gerard Mantese and John J. Conway, were pleased with the settlement. Mr. Mantese and Mr. Conway issued a joint statement emphasizing: "No insurer should ever take this approach to needed care for children. Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy is supported by science and is not 'experimental.' Delays by insurers in authorizing this treatment
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SOURCE Mantese and Rossman, P.C.
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