Victory for New Jersey Psychological Association in privacy law case

APAPO supported NJPA’s case as part of its larger advocacy on managed care issues

By Legal and Regulatory Affairs staff

December 8, 2011—On November 18, 2011, New Jersey Judge Harriet Klein heard oral arguments on defendants’ motion to dismiss the privacy lawsuit brought by the New Jersey Psychological Association (NJPA). At the end of arguments, Judge Klein ruled in NJPA’s favor, denying defendants’ motion in all respects.

In this case supported by the APA Practice Organization (APAPO), NJPA and two patient plaintiffs sought a declaration regarding the privacy rights of these and other patients who are insured by the New Jersey State Health Benefits Plan (SHBP). Plaintiffs sued the two companies that manage benefits under the SHBP, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and Magellan, alleging that their intrusive information requests violate New Jersey privacy law and contractual promises to follow the “minimum necessary” rule.

Another New Jersey judge had dismissed a similar case by NJPA in January 2011 on the grounds that NJPA lacked legal “standing” to represent the privacy concerns of patients, who were not parties in that case. In the November 18 argument, NJPA’s counsel Bruce Greenberg argued that NJPA had cured any deficiencies in standing, in part by adding the two patient plaintiffs who were asserting their own privacy concerns. He also countered various other arguments by defendants.

Defendants have until mid-December to request permission to appeal Judge Klein’s decision. If they do not make that request or if the request is denied, the case will move forward to discovery and then motions for summary judgment, trial and/or settlement. Judge Klein endeavors to resolve her cases within 12 months.

APAPO has supported NJPA's litigation since the stages of the first case with an emergency grant and hundreds of hours of attorney consultation on HIPAA, privacy and managed care issues. In the last six months, for example, APAPO has provided legal collaboration and/or drafting on the new complaint, the brief in reply to the motion to dismiss and oral argument on that motion, and attended the argument.

APAPO's support for NJPA’s case is part of its larger advocacy on managed care issues, which also includes parity challenges to reimbursement cuts and the nationwide Ingenix class actions.

For more information, contact the Legal and Regulatory Affairs department at (202) 336-5886 or by email.