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Bone marrow donor case involving fashion models settled

BOSTON -- Massachusetts officials have announced an agreement that requires a bone marrow registry and medical laboratory agency that hired fashion models in short skirts to recruit donors to pay $520,000.

Attorney General Martha Coakley said Caitlin Raymond International Registry and UMass Memorial Health Ventures Inc. engaged in improper marketing by paying models to attract potential donors at malls, festivals and sporting venues.

A judgment filed in court by Coakley on Thursday alleges that they also improperly waived copayments and deductible amounts for the testing of potential donors.

“Efforts to increase bone marrow donor registration cannot be built on unfair and deceptive practices that increase the cost of health care for all of us,” Coakley said in a statement. “No health care provider should be allowed to use gimmicks and free gifts to increase the volume of services covered by health plans for their own financial gain.”

The Boston Globe reported that UMass Memorial had provided financial perks to those who enlisted the most donors with insurance.

Under the agreement, they will pay restitution to Massachusetts consumers for out-of-pocket payments made for donor testing. They will also pay the state $500,000 for initiatives to improve health care services and to combat unlawful marketing practices.

Officials in New Hampshire, where the models were also used, planned a news conference Thursday afternoon.

“We accept full responsibility for the mistakes and errors in judgment that were made. We are pleased to have reached a resolution with the Massachusetts Attorney General that validates the important work of the Caitlin Raymond International Registry,” said John G. O'Brien, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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