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Aetna Sued Under Anti-Racketeering Law

April 20, 1999|Associated Press

Three Aetna Inc. members and a consumer group sued the giant health-maintenance organization, claiming false advertising. It was believed to be the first lawsuit against an HMO under a federal anti-racketeering law. The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims Aetna attracted potential customers by saying it was dedicated to quality medical care. Instead, the suit alleges, the company encourages systemwide cost cutting that undermines medical care. The suit was filed by three Pennsylvanians on behalf of nearly 6 million people who enrolled or renewed HMO membership in Aetna from July 1996 to the present. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a Santa Monica-based consumer group, is representing the HMO members. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and asks that Aetna stop misleading customers. Officials with Aetna, based in Hartford, Conn., refused to comment.

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