By Cheryl Clark, The San Diego Union-Tribune Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
May 23--Leading health insurer Aetna Inc. yesterday agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by 700,000 physicians by promising to pay them faster and remove authorization burdens the doctors said delayed and even harmed patient care.
"Aetna has given us the opportunity to bring decision-making back to a process between the doctor and the patient, and other health care plans should follow suit," said Dr. Ronald Bangasser, president of the California Medical Association, which represents 35,000 physicians in the state. "I give Aetna a lot of credit for stepping up."
The doctors and medical groups in more than a dozen states accused Aetna and other large for-profit health plans of conspiring to delay, lower or block reimbursement for physicians' services and …