Horizon files false advertising claim against Holy Name, Valley over OMNIA criticism

Eric Strauss//January 29, 2016

Horizon files false advertising claim against Holy Name, Valley over OMNIA criticism

Eric Strauss//January 29, 2016

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has fired back against two of the most vocal critics of its new OMNIA Health Plans, seeking an injunction against what it claims is false and disparaging advertising by Holy Name Medical Center and The Valley Hospital.In a complaint filed this week, Horizon, which crafted the tiered health insurance plans last year, says Holy Name, based in Teaneck, and Valley, based in Ridgewood, have produced advertising that goes beyond criticism into defamation of the state’s largest insurer.

“Holy Name Medical Center and The Valley Hospital have run a false and misleading ad campaign, claiming among other things that our company ‘couldn’t care less’ about babies,” Horizon told NJBIZ in a statement. “It’s deceptive and defamatory and, since Holy Name and The Valley have refused Horizon’s requests to voluntarily end their attack on our company’s integrity, Horizon has little choice but to bring the hospitals to court to stop their reckless statements.”

The OMNIA plans have been at the center of a legal and political firestorm since their introduction in September.

Both Holy Name and Valley were placed in Tier 2 of the health plans, rather than the top tier of hospitals and other health providers.

Bruce Rosen is the attorney for both Holy Name and Valley.

“This frivolous lawsuit is a blatant attempt by Horizon to distract attention away from the potentially disastrous impact the OMNIA plan will have on Tier 2 hospitals, their patients and New Jersey’s health care system as a whole,” he said in a statement. “Horizon’s relentless marketing campaign to promote OMNIA has caused significant damage to the reputation of Tier 2 hospitals. Through their misleading marketing and branding efforts, Horizon has led consumers to believe that Tier 1 hospitals are superior, while Tier 2 hospitals are somehow inferior. This is simply untrue.

“These hospitals have the first amendment right to set the record straight by informing patients and the general public about the damage the OMNIA plan will inflict on hospitals and consumers.”

In its court filing, Horizon asks for court orders requiring:

  • The cessation and removal of Holy Name and Valley’s advertisements against OMNIA;
  • Prohibition of false advertising, including potential corrective advertising;
  • And correction of “any erroneous impression” people may have derived from the advertising.

Horizon also is seeking judgments that the hospitals have violated various laws, as well as damages and costs, according to the filing.

While Horizon has been the defendant in at least two lawsuits over OMNIA, this is the first time the insurer has filed as a plaintiff.