East v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana

Summary

Lambda Legal filed a federal class action discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana (BCBS) after the insurer, Louisiana’s largest, announced it will no longer accept the federally-funded premium subsidies that enable low-income Louisianans living with HIV to purchase health insurance. Two other insurers included as defendants — Louisiana Health Cooperative and Vantage Health Plan — are also following BCBS’s lead.

Lambda Legal is seeking an emergency injunction to force all three defendants to accept the premium payments and to provide health insurance until the lawsuit is heard. Lambda Legal’s action follows several efforts to compel BCBS and the other insurers to reverse the policy shift, including a letter to BCBS of Louisiana on January 27, 2014, and complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of John East, a part-time worker in the hospitality industry, and other low-income Louisianans living with HIV. East, a 59-year-old New Orleans man insured by BCBS for nearly 30 years, learned in mid-January that BCBS would no longer accept the federal Ryan White subsidies for which he qualifies. Without the subsidies, East will not be able to afford his medical care and HIV medications.

History

  • February 20, 2014 Lambda Legal files complaint in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.
  • March 10, 2014 The U.S. District Court hearing came to a positive ending when BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana (BCBS) and two other Louisiana insurers agreed to continue to accept federally-funded third party premium payments on behalf of lower-income Louisianans living with HIV through November 15, 2014, when the next open enrollment period begins.

Case Information

Status: Closed
Outcome: Victory

Attorneys

Lambda Legal
Kenneth D. Upton, Jr.
Scott Schoettes
Susan Sommer

Ropes & Gray LLP
Jeffrey J. Bushofsky
Timothy R. Farrell
Amanda R. Phillips
Anthony C. Biagioli

Phelps Dunbar LLP
Harry Rosenberg