KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Nev. Jury Orders HMO To Pay $500M In Punitive Damages After Hep C Outbreak

A Nevada jury has awarded three plaintiffs $500 million in punitive damages after finding negligence. 

The Wall Street Journal: Jury Awards $500 Million Damages In Hepatitis Case
A Nevada jury said two UnitedHealth Group Inc. units should pay a total of $500 million in punitive damages in a case involving two members who contracted hepatitis C, an award that will draw close attention in the health-insurance industry. The decision follows the jury's decision last week that Health Plan of Nevada and a sister company, Sierra Health Services, bore responsibility for negligence in the two women's illness. At that time, it awarded $24 million in total compensatory damages to them and to the spouse of one of them (Mathews, 4/9).

The Associated Press: Nev. Jury Orders HMO To Pay $500M In Hepatitis Case
Two companies — both subsidiaries of publicly traded UnitedHealth Group Inc. — signed a low-bid contract with the physician who ran the clinic where the outbreak started, despite warnings that he sped through procedures and pinched pennies at his clinics so much that patients were at risk of contracting blood-borne diseases (Ritter, 4/9).

A Texas insurer is accused of overcharging Virginia Tech students for health coverage -- 

The Associated Press: Texas Student Insurance Firm Indicted In Va.
An indictment says a Texas company that provided health insurance to Virginia Tech students fraudulently overstated claims by more than $9 million to boost its profits. The grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va., charges GM-Southwest Inc. and its former owner, 73-year-old John Paul Gutschlag Sr., with racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and fraud (O'Dell, 4/9).

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