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HMO critic Feinwachs sues health plans for defamation

Paul Demko//February 9, 2011

HMO critic Feinwachs sues health plans for defamation

Paul Demko//February 9, 2011

 Peter Bartz-Gallagher)
Dave Feinwachs (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Dave Feinwachs, former general counsel for the Minnesota Hospital Association, has filed a defamation lawsuit in Ramsey County District Court against the Minnesota Council of Health Plans. The suit alleges that the nonprofit health care groups waged a campaign to discredit him in retaliation for his criticism of their business practices.

In November Feinwachs was fired from his position with the Minnesota Hospital Association, where he’d worked for three decades. His annual compensation package was roughly $200,000.

Feinwachs has been aggressively criticizing the health plans, arguing that there is little transparency or accountability in how they spend roughly $3 billion in public funds each year.  On Tuesday he testified before the House’s Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

The lawsuit accuses employees of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans (MCHP) of unfairly smearing Feinwachs’ reputation. For instance, in December, Kathryn Kmit, the organization’s director of policy and government affairs, allegedly stated at a Republican fundraiser that Feinwachs is a “gun nut” and that “MCHP fears for its safety” because he will “come in and start shooting.”

Feinwachs is seeking in excess of $50,000.

In MCHP’s answer to the legal complaint, it acknowledges that employees of the organization criticized Feinwachs because they believed he was grossly mischaracterizing their business practices. But it denies that they made any false claims about him or defamed his character. MCHP is seeking to have the lawsuit thrown out and to be reimbursed for its legal costs.

Read Feinwachs’ complaint here.

Read the MCHP’s answer here.

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