Naturopathic Physicians and Their Patients File Discrimination Lawsuit

BHMK filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of naturopathic physicians and their patients. The lawsuit alleges that two insurance companies—Health Net Health Plan of Oregon, Inc., and American Specialty Health Group, Inc.—violated the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) by discriminating against naturopathic physicians.

The ACA mandates non-discriminatory health care with the goal of improving the quality, affordability, and accessibility of patient care. Specifically, insurance companies cannot discriminate against a health care provider acting within the scope of their state-issued license.

The State of Oregon has licensed naturopathic physicians since 1928 with a broad scope of practice that allows naturopathic physicians to serve as primary care providers, provide preventative services, prescribe pharmaceuticals, and order tests necessary to diagnose and treat illness.

The lawsuit alleges that Health Net and American Specialty Health violated the non-discrimination mandate by limiting patient access to naturopathic physicians licensed in Oregon. Those discriminatory practices include prohibiting reimbursement to naturopathic physicians for certain types of care, capping annual reimbursement amounts to naturopathic physicians, and paying naturopathic physicians less than other providers performing the same service.

The lawsuit seeks several remedies, including: (1) reimbursement to individuals who have been denied benefits under their health insurance plans; (2) repayment of profits retained by the insurance companies as a result of their discriminatory practices; (3) enforcement of non-discriminatory practices in the future; and (4) a declaratory judgment clarifying application of the ACA’s non-discrimination mandate.

You can read more about the lawsuit here and here.

Court Approves $2 million Settlement in Class Action Wage Lawsuit

BHMK in collaboration with attorneys from the Oregon Nurses Association successfully settled the class action lawsuit of Thanane v. Providence Health & Services – Oregon.

The lawsuit alleged that Providence violated state and federal laws by withholding wages from employees. Specifically, BHMK attorneys argued that Providence managers fraudulently altered employee timecards to avoid payment of overtime wages. They also argued that Providence systematically underpaid wages by using timekeeping software in a way that rounded clock-in and clock-out times to the detriment of employees.

Providence will pay approximately $2 million as part of a settlement of all claims. More than 25,000 current and former Providence employees were notified that they would receive compensation as part of the settlement. Federal district court judge Michael Mosman approved the settlement at a hearing on June 17, 2015. Checks will be distributed to former and current employees in the next several weeks.

You can read more about the settlement here.

Initiative and Ballot Title Challenges

As anyone involved in ballot measure campaigns can attest to, the wording of the ballot title for a prospective initiative can make the difference in whether proponents will even gather signatures and, if the measure qualifies for the ballot, the difference between winning and losing a campaign. For almost 20 years, Margaret Olney has worked with a variety of organizations and individuals to help ensure that ballot titles for prospective initiatives are fair and accurate. She has filed countless comments that have improved the ballot title, as well as dozens of successful challenges to the Oregon Supreme Court. Sometimes, she works on behalf of those supporting an initiative; other times for those opposing an initiative. While a large amount of her work has revolved around anti-union and anti-tax initiatives, Margaret has also represented a variety of other clients, including environmental groups, professional associations, Planned Parenthood and Basic Rights Oregon. At BHMK, she is joined by Aruna Masih and Tom Doyle, who also have many successful ballot title challenges to their credit.

Teacher Dismissal Overturned

A teacher had attempted to commit suicide off-duty by driving her vehicle into the back of her estranged husband’s unoccupied truck. Despite the fact that the teacher received only minor injuries and was soon released to return to work, the District terminated her employment. Tom Doyle represented her before an administrative panel. That panel ordered reinstatement. According to the unanimous panel, terminating the teacher was “clearly excessive and unreasonable.”

University Faculty Reimbursed for Unlawful Retirement Contribution Reductions

Tom Doyle represented a group of six plaintiffs on behalf of a class of thousands of Oregon University faculty who participate in State’s Optional Retirement Plan (ORP). The Oregon University System had unlawfully reduced ORP participants contributions by in excess of two million dollars. As a result of the filing of the suit and this settlement, OUS reimbursed its employees in excess of two million dollars, including repaying lost earnings on those contributions and plaintiffs’ attorney fees.

Unlawful Paycheck Deductions Reimbursed

After an employee was terminated from his employer, the employer made deductions from the employees final paycheck. These deductions were for allegedly incorrect expense account reimbursements. Tom Doyle successfully obtained reimbursement to the employee for all unlawful deductions and penalty wages.

Nurses’ Union Victory at OHSU

Tom Doyle and Hank Kaplan represented the nurses union in an unfair labor practice complaint against Oregon Health Sciences University. During a strike by the nurses union, OHSU paid nurses an incentive to cross the picket line. As a result of this ULP, OHSU was required to pay the same incentive to nurses who did not cross the picket line.