GS Labs hits BCBS of Kansas City with counterclaims, alleges antitrust, defamation violations

GS Labs is responding to a July 2021 lawsuit from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City with a counterclaim that alleges the payer violated federal antitrust laws and conspired with other affiliated companies to withhold payments. 

The payer initially sued GS Labs alleging it charged 10 times more for COVID-19 tests than competitors, resulting in $9.2 million in "inflated and otherwise improper claims."

Now, the counterclaim alleges that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City aimed to prevent GS Labs' expansion into Missouri, conspired with other Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates to deny payments, defamed the lab and interfered with its business relationships, according to a news release shared with Becker's. 

Specifically, the counterclaim alleges that various Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates shared "competitively sensitive information" among themselves to align negotiations and deny payments. It also alleges that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City investigators provided false information to state and federal regulators. 

"The conduct of Blue KC in trying to destroy a business that provides critical COVID-19 testing is disturbing, especially at a time when the Omicron variant has made testing more difficult to find and more important than ever," said Kirk Thompson, a partner with GS Labs. "Given Blue KC's refusal to negotiate in good faith, we forge ahead with the counterclaims to protect patients and our business."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City did not respond to Becker's request for comment. 

GS Labs has been surrounded in lawsuits since the second quarter of 2021. Two Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates sued the lab over alleged COVID-19 test price inflation, and GS Labs sued Minnesota-based Medica alleging it withheld $10 million in test payments.

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