WASHINGTON and SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Academy of Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care (AAAPC)™, a nation-wide, non-profit organization that represents the interests of primary care physicians whose practice includes allergy testing and allergen immunotherapy, and United Allergy Services (UAS)®, a leading healthcare services company assisting family physicians, pediatricians, and health systems to deliver safe and effective allergy testing and customized immunotherapy services, today announced the filing of a joint lawsuit against several coalitions of board certified allergists—The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), The Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (JCAAI), and specific board members and officers within each organization. The lawsuit, pending in federal district court in San Antonio, alleges that the defendants have engaged in anti-competitive practices.
According to the lawsuit, AAAPC and UAS allege that the Defendants have encouraged insurance companies and managed care organizations to deny or limit reimbursement to physicians who are not board-certified allergists, including physicians whose practices are supported by UAS. Additional alleged anticompetitive conduct includes intimidating primary care physicians from practicing allergy care within their scope of practice, coercing and persuading allergist colleagues to boycott primary care physicians and UAS, and supporting and weighing in on self-generated complaints by allergists to medical boards. According to the Complaint, the individual defendants, all board-certified allergists, have also sought to restrict patient self-administration of allergy shots, thereby allowing allergists to charge patients and insurance companies for office visits, copays and shots as often as three times a week.
"Allergy care is critical for millions of Americans. Too often patients are suffering from allergy symptoms because they do not have access to adequate care. Lack of care can lead to asthma attacks and emergency room visits creating a preventable burden on the healthcare environment. Allergists and family physicians need to work together to ensure appropriate care for all allergy sufferers," said Dr. Jeff Bullard, M.D., President of AAAPC and a UAS physician partner. "As a board-certified family care physician, allergy services are within the scope of my practice and are a valued service for my patients. By treating seasonal and perennial allergy patients in the primary care setting, allergists can be freed up to care for patients, such as those with potentially fatal food allergies that absolutely require specialized care."
"With 50 million allergy patients and only approximately 5,000 practicing allergists, the lack of allergy care has become an epidemic," said Peggy Binzer, executive director, AAAPC. "Given this situation, it is unfortunate that the national allergist organizations are hindering care and fighting efforts to increase access to care for the millions of underserved patients. Patients deserve much better. It is our hope that allergists will soon realize the value of collaborating with primary care physicians to deliver timely, personalized care to all allergy sufferers—seasonal and perennial allergy patients that can be treated by family physicians and serious allergy sufferers that require specialty care from allergists."
Plaintiffs are represented by Casey Low of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP.
About The Academy of Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care
The Academy of Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care (AAAPC)™ launched in February 2013 is a nation-wide, non-profit organization representing the interests of primary care physicians whose practice includes allergy testing and allergen immunotherapy. The AAAPC's mission is to foster the ability of physicians to provide high quality, patient accessible diagnostic and therapeutic allergy and asthma care. AAAPC is a voice for physicians and patients using allergy and asthma diagnostic and therapeutic services to raise awareness of the link between allergy care and asthma prevention, particularly in pediatric and family practice populations.
About United Allergy Services
United Allergy Services ® (UAS) brings effective and convenient allergy testing and immunotherapy to primary care physicians; pulmonologists; ENT physicians; pediatricians; internal medicine physicians; and healthcare systems that treat the vast majority of patients with seasonal and perennial allergies. UAS' complete service line features in-office UAS Certified Clinical Allergy Specialist staffing and training; quality assurance and compliance; and supply and inventory management. By collaborating with physicians to safely administer allergy testing and shots, UAS has assisted the expansion of access to effective allergy care for thousands of patients that suffer from seasonal and perennial allergies.
SOURCE The Academy of Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care (AAAPC)