Local News

Blue Cross Faces Loudest Critic In Courtroom

Posted September 27, 2005 6:09 a.m. EDT

— Call it the first round in Blue Cross/Blue Shield's court battle to quiet one of its loudest critics, ProCare.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

, the state's largest health insurer, filed suit against


when the advocacy group published one of Blue Cross's internal memos.

Whether it's a Caribbean cruise for Blue Cross's top sellers or $500,000 to foot a corporate promotions bill at the U.S. Open, ProCare made sure the public knew about Blue Cross's spending.

In a motions hearing Tuesday afternoon, attorneys for Blue Cross argued for a protective order to keep what they consider sensitive court filings confidential.

The attorneys also do not want to give ProCare a chance to interview Blue Cross CEO Bob Greczyn under oath.

Hugh Stevens, an attorney for ProCare, countered and said the health insurer wants to stifle free speech.

"We see this as simply an attempt by Blue Cross to have their lawsuit, and yet at the same time hide it from the public, so presumably to spare them from embarrassment," Stevens said.

Blue Cross declined comment until the judge rules on the motion. Judge Donald Smith told attorneys he would rule on the protective order Wednesday afternoon.

Blue Cross spokesman Mark Stinneford spelled out the reasoning behind the lawsuit several weeks ago.

"When a special interest group crosses the line of criticism to an illegal scheme to take and publish proprietary information, that's when we had to act," Stinneford said.