Friday, December 21, 2007


Unfreaking believable, but yet not.

A teen age girl is dead because her insurance company - CIGNA - denied payment for a liver transplant until protests by nurses and others forced them to change their mind.

Unfortunately for seventeen year old Nataline Sarkisyan (seen here) that decision came too late.

She died.

And that my friends is just one more reason why the insurance companies must be removed from the whole health care equation.

I know many Americans fear a government run universal health care program such as we find in virtually every other industrial country in the world, but come on people, could anyone do a worse, more unfair, and more deadly job than a bunch of big companies whose interest is dollars not you?

How can you not get it already? How dumb can you be to not see this? I don't care how much propaganda there is out there, wake up and smell the coffee.

No! A thousand times "no", I don't trust the federal government to do a bang up job with much of anything it touches, but ask your aging parents if they'd rather have Medicare and Social Security available or not - warts and all.

Now all those conservative types out there are always complaining that in a system of universal health care choice will be taken away from you and from health care professionals. Hogwash! You ain't got that choice now and neither does your doctor, your nurse or anyone else besides your health insurance company. A good system of universal care will in fact give choice back to you and health care professinals and take it away from a bunch of greedy blood suckers.

The free market is not about keeping you alive...get it?

The most trusted group in America is nurses. They get it. You trust them. Listen to them already.

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee released a statement today about the murder (my word, not theirs) of Nataline Sarkisyan. It reads in full:

"The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today blasted insurance giant CIGNA for failing to approve a liver transplant one week earlier for 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, who tragically died last night just hours after CIGNA relented and agreed to the procedure following a massive national outcry."

On Dec. 11, four leading physicians, including the surgical director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at UCLA, wrote to CIGNA urging the company to reverse its denial. The physicians said that Nataline “currently meets criteria to be listed as Status 1A” for a transplant. They also challenged CIGNA’s denial which the company said occurred because their benefit plan “does not cover experimental, investigational and unproven services,” to which the doctors replied, “Nataline’s case is in fact none of the above.”

“So what happened between December 11, when CIGNA denied the transplant, and December 20 when they approved? A huge outpouring of protest and CIGNA’s public humiliation. Why didn’t they just listen to the medical professionals at the bedside in the first place?” asked Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who works in a transplant unit at the University of California San Diego Medical Center."

On Thursday, CIGNA was bombarded with phone calls to its offices across the country while a rally sponsored by CNA/NNOC, with the substantial help of the local Armenian community, drew 150 people to the Glendale offices of CIGNA – all of which produced the turnaround by CIGNA to finally reverse its prior denial of care."

CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro called the final outcome "a horrific tragedy that demonstrates what is so fundamentally wrong with our health care system today. Insurance companies have a stranglehold on our health. Their first priority is to make profits for their shareholders – and the way they do that is by denying care."

"It is simply not possible to organize major protests every time a multi-billion corporation like CIGNA denies care that has been recommended by a physician," DeMoro said. “Having insurance is not the same as receiving needed care. We need a fundamental change in our healthcare system that takes control away from the insurance giants and places it where it belongs – in the hands of the medical professionals, the patients, and their families."

Geri Jenkins of the California Nurses Association told ABC News the Sarkisyan had insurance, and medical providers felt comfortable performing the medical procedure. In that situation, the the insurer should defer to medical experts, she said.

"They have insurance, and there's no reason that the doctors' judgment should be overridden by a bean counter sitting there in an insurance office," Jenkins said.

Nataline grieving family is rightfully blaming the insurance company for her death."They're the ones who caused this. They're the one that told us to go there, and they would pay for the transplant," Hilda Sarkisyan said. "She had a 65% chance of survival if she had gotten the liver," Nataline's mother Hilda Sarkisyan added from her home this morning. She pointed out the company was trying to save themselves money. "They just like to collect. They don't want to deliver."

"They took my daughter away from me," said Nataline's father, Krikor, who appeared at a news conference with his 21-year-old son, Bedros.

The family isn't done with CIGNA.

They have contacted Attorney Mark Geragos. Gergos says that CIGNA "maliciously killed her" and that he hopes to press murder or manslaughter charges against CIGNA HealthCare for the death of Sarkisyan.

Someone should be locked away for a long long time.

What do you think the chances of that happening are?

The following is from
The Raw Story.

Family of dead teen to sue insurer that dallied on liver transplant
Filed by David Edwards and Jason Rhyne

California nurses group says insurer CIGNA has 'blood on their hands'
The family of a 17-year-old California girl who died after being initially denied payment for a liver transplant is suing the teen's insurance company, an attorney for the family said Friday.

Nataline Sarkisyan, who died Thursday night after her family removed her from life support, had been in a vegetative state for weeks due to complications following a bone marrow transplant. Insurer CIGNA HealthCare had first denied a doctor-recommended liver transplant for Nataline, who suffered from leukemia, but had reversed course yesterday in the face of mounting public pressure.

The girl had been hospitalized since mid-November, but her condition had recently worsened due to a lung condition, reports the Los Angeles Daily News. It was not immediately clear when Nataline entered a vegetative state.

Noted defense attorney Mark Geragos told reporters at a Friday news conference that the girl's family will file a civil lawsuit against CIGNA, as well as urge a California district attorney to seek either manslaughter or murder charges against the company.

"CIGNA Health Corporation literally, maliciously killed her...they conciously disregarded her life," Geragos said of CIGNA. "And they did that for one specific reason: they did not want to pay for her after-care."

Doctors at UCLA determined she needed a transplant and sent a letter to CIGNA on Dec. 11 stating that patients in similar situations who undergo transplants had a six-month survival rate of about 65 percent. The Philadelphia-based health insurance company denied payment for the transplant, saying the procedure was experimental and outside the scope of coverage.

On Thursday, about 150 teenagers and nurses protested outside CIGNA's office in Glendale, Calif. As the protesters rallied, the company rethought its earlier decision and said it would approve the transplant.

But the reversal didn't come early enough to help Nataline.

Liz Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the California Nurses Association -- one of the groups that had pushed for CIGNA to change its mind -- told RAW STORY that it was fair to hold the the insurer at fault.

"This is a tragedy that could have been prevented," said Jacobs, who is a registered nurse. "They have blood on their hands, they were responsible."

Jacobs added that it was unfortunate that the family had to resort to outside efforts to convince CIGNA to grant the transplant.

"For them to have to go through what they've had to go through, calling a press conference, a rally. CIGNA was inundated...people shouldn't have to go to these lengths" she said. "We have dedicated our mission as nurses to advocate for patients -- and often, more and more, that means taking it beyond the hospitals and into the marble lobbies of the insurance companies."

Despite their late change of policy, CIGNA said in an e-mail statement before the girl died that there was a lack of medical evidence showing the procedure would work in Nataline's case.

"Our hearts go out to Nataline and her family, as they endure this terrible ordeal," the company said. " ... CIGNA HealthCare has decided to make an exception in this rare and unusual case and we will provide coverage should she proceed with the requested liver transplant."

In emotional statements at Friday's press conference, Nataline's father and brother spoke out against the insurance company.

"These CIGNA people," said Nataline's father, "they cannot make people's decision whether they're going to live or die."

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