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2002-04-26

A Massive Pressure Campaign Forces Cigna Health Insurance Company to Grant a Bone Marrow Transplant to a Legal Aid Attorney Whose Life Hangs in the Balance

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Democracy Now! reported on Wednesday that the head of the public defenders of the eastern district of the Legal Aid Society, Thomas Concannon, could die because his health insurance company, Cigna, had refused to pay for the operation he needed.

Concannon was diagnosed with multiple myeloma two years ago. Multiple myeloma is extremely difficult to cure, but in recent years bone marrow transplants have proven increasingly effective in treating the disease.

But Concannon’s insurance company, Cigna, refused to pay for the procedure. Cigna is one of the nation’s largest private health insurers, worth more than $91 billion. In 2001, it brought in more than $19 billion in revenue.

After Concannon described his case on Democracy Now!, hundreds of people called Cigna and the independent company reviewing his case to protest. As a result the company has reversed its decision, and Thomas Concannon has been granted a chance to live.

But Concannon is the exception, not the rule. Some 43 million people in this country don’t have any health insurance at all. That is up 38 million from ten years ago.

Tape:

  • Gail Silver, spokesperson for CIGNA health insurance company.
  • Thomas Concannon, head of the public defenders of the eastern district of the Legal Aid Society and multiple myeloma patient, speaking at a celebration party in New York yesterday.
  • Elisabeth Benjamin, supervising attorney in the health law unit of the Legal Aid Society, speaking at a celebration party in New York yesterday.

Guest:

  • Stephanie Woolhandler, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Music:

  • What A Wonderful World–Victoria Williams & Vic Chestnut, Sessions & Stages.

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