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      Blue Cross suits to be combined

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      {} {} A collection of seven federal anti-trust lawsuits filed against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama - and two suits in other states - have been consolidated and Birmingham U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor has been appointed to preside over the case.{} {} Blue Cross Blue Shield officials say their 38 Blue Plans nationwide are an effort by health insurers to create a national brand with separate companies in different areas. {}Plaintiffs in the lawsuits say the plans are actually independent companies that could compete against each other, but are instead divided among a single company. Blue Cross Blue Shield officials have called the lawsuits meritless.{} {} Proctor will also preside over two lawsuits filed against the company in Tennessee and North Carolina.

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