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March 25, 2008

PacifiCare Capitulates to Latest California Patient Revolt

In the face of a national campaign on behalf of Nick Colombo, insurance giant PacifiCare has reversed its decisions and agreed to critically needed cancer treatments for the 17-year-old from Placentia, Calif. The decision came after the company was overwhelmed by calls organized by Nick's friends and family, along with RNs from the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, and netroots activists.

Over 100 of Nick's classmates, friends of the family with their young children, and nurses protested in front of the health insurance company headquarters this morning to demand that the approval be put in writing, which a PacifiCare representative, surrounded by T.V. cameras, and promised to do.

"I am extremely happy about PacifiCare's reversal," said Ricky Colombo, Nick's 19-year old brother. "The goal was to get treatment for Nick, and CNA/NNOC and other allies helped us with that. We decided to go through with the rally in order to get their decision on the record and make sure they back up their words -- and also because there are thousands of others in similar situations who can't get the care they need. We feel blessed to have this community supporting our family."

This is the latest example of a "patient revolt," where friends, family, and healthcare activists demand treatments denied by for-profit insurance corporations. In this case, Nick's physicians pleaded with PacifiCare to approve a cancer treatment, only to be overruled by an insurance company medical reviewer. PacifiCare is owned by United Health, the nation's largest health insurer, and just last year was fined $3.5 million by the state of California for wrongly denying 133,000 cases in a two-year period.

Inspired by the pleas of Nick's 19-year-old brother Ricky -- A national web of friends and family of Nick -- CNA/NNOC registered nurses, doctors, healthcare advocates, and netroot supporters pitched in on a national day of action Monday on Nick's behalf. Hundreds of phone callers clogged the lines of PacifiCare and United Healthcare offices around the country yesterday, at times shutting down the phone system, and leading a spokesman to complain about being "overwhelmed" by healthcare activists.

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Posted by healthinsurance at March 25, 2008 01:50 PM

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