NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 13, 2010

Coakley will take on insurance companies

To the editor:

In the days following Sen. Kennedy's death the news media reported on countless ways the senator and his staff intervened on behalf of constituents in need. Many of these constituents were people facing off against unresponsive bureaucracies. These one-on-one encounters informed his policy work. He understood the lives of average Americans and worked to enact legislation that would address their needs. Voters should remember his example when they enter the voting booth. They should ask themselves who will be responsive to their needs. The question will guide me when I cast my vote.

As an oncology social worker, I am called upon to advocate for patients at times when they are most vulnerable and unable to speak for themselves. All too often, I find myself dealing with their insurance companies. I recently worked with a woman being treated for breast cancer. She had developed lymph edema, and required specialized physical therapy treatments to control the swelling in her arm. As required, her insurance company was contacted for a prior approval. The insurance rep agreed that she was in need of these services and even issued an authorization number. However, when it came time to pay the bill, the company then claimed that, although they agreed she was in need of the service, they had not suggested that the services would be covered (What about that authorization number?). Weeks of phone calls, letters and faxed documentation followed, all to no avail. I then reached out to Martha Coakley's office. They eventually resolved the problem in the patient's favor. Nevertheless, my patient faced her death not only worried about how her family would fare after she was gone, but also worried about how they would pay her bills.

Martha Coakley has dealt with many situations like this one. She understands that patients have a right to expect that after paying their premiums, their care will be covered. That such insurance company gamesmanship should not be tolerated. It is why she supports health care reform. In contrast, Scott Brown opposes health care reform. By adopting this stance, he sends the message that he is willing to maintain the current status quo within the health care system, despite such failures and abuses. He sends the message that he will not be responsive to my needs. I will be voting for Martha Coakley.

Mary Anne Macaulay

Newburyport

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