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Brokers: Talk of possible class action suit over Health Link problems


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Brokers: Talk of possible class action suit over Health Link problems

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Mar 25, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The deadline to purchase health insurance through Nevada's state exchange is just days away but a potential legal battle may just be starting.

Two valley brokers tell Action News there is talk behind the scenes of a possible class action lawsuit related to problems with Nevada Health Link.

"The lawyers are starting to look at this right now," said North Las Vegas insurance broker Patrick Casale.

For months, customers have complained about glitches with the system. Larry Basich of Las Vegas said he was left with roughly $407,000 in medical bills from a heart attack after his insurance coverage was left in limbo.

"This is crazy. I never thought I'd be here," Basich told Action News on March 7. "I thought January 1, I'd have coverage."

Casale and broker Tamar Burch, who now represents Basich, told Action News a possible class could include customers who paid for health care but still are not covered.

"I know they're being talked about right now," Casale said. "I've been contacted by a couple attorneys and the answer is very possible that something's going to happen in the next week, maybe sooner."

Action News searched the online court database for Clark County and did not find any lawsuits filed just yet. Health link spokesman CJ Bawden said he did not know of any class action lawsuits as of Tuesday.

Casale said state law places a cap on damages from the state, so lawyers may name insurance carriers or developer Xerox.

For weeks, Xerox has maintained that it's working to fix the system's problems. The company sent Action News a statement but did not address the possibility of a class action suit.

"We met with brokers as late as today to seek their input and to ensure that the special enrollment period is a success," Xerox spokesman Ken Ericson said in the statement.

Michael Olsen, a Las Vegas contract attorney, told Action News over the phone that the analysis for this type of potential case would likely be two parts.

First, the question is whether the state exchange and its contractors can claim government immunity. Olsen said a key part would be determining whether or not the parties conducted a discretionary act. Secondly, the next question is whether the $100,000 cap on damages would apply.

Olsen noted that creating a class action case could be complicated since class members must have a common complaint or harm; customers have reported many different types of problems with the health link.

The deadline for open enrollment is March 31. A special enrollment period of 60-days is approved for people who have had trouble signing up. The state board overseeing the exchange is set to meet Thursday.