WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Aetna Inc. was suing six New Jersey physicians, claiming they filed “unlawful and excessive” bills, including nearly $57,000 for a 25-minute consultation.

The lawsuits stem from hospital care where patients were referred to in-network hospitals but received care from out-of-network physicians. The doctors don’t have contracts and set their own fees.

Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener told The Record newspaper the six doctors were reimbursed $8.3 million in 2009, up from $4.9 million in 2008.

The spokeswoman said you can’t charge $56,000 for a $74 ultrasound procedure.

The lawsuit alleges cardiologist Deepak Srinivasan at Hackensack University Medical Center increased his fee from $1,400 to $16,380 for the first 30 to 74 minutes of services for critically ill patients.

The doctor’s lawyer, George Frino, called Aetna’s suit “a gross abuse of the judicial system.”

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