A 47-year-old single woman suffering from the highly aggressive HER2NU Stage 2 breast cancer is going to get the life-saving treatment she needs after a bipartisan effort from Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) and Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska).
Lisa (last name withheld)—who carries a limited insurance plan through her employer—was denied outpatient insurance coverage for chemotherapy and radiation set to start today, Oct. 24.
Lisa applied for additional coverage through the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA) after exhausting her existing benefits following two surgeries to remove a breast tumor and 19 lymph nodes.
In an Oct. 22 letter to Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, Lisa wrote:
"Please know that I feel the stress of my treatment deadline more heavily than you can imagine. As such, I am asking for you to do what is right, to place value on my life, and to grant me the MCHA coverage now. To do so allows me to have the treatment I so desperately need, and helps me to move forward and positively with my life."
In a letter to the appeals committee, Minnesota Oncology Dr. Mark D. Sborov said Lisa's risk for recurrence of cancer was "quite high" and that the chemotherapy treatment was Lisa's best "chance for a cure."
Reps. Atkins and Hoppe made a collective appeal to Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman to reverse the coverage denial. Atkins is the former DFL Chair of the House Commerce Committee—which regulates the MCHA—and Rep. Hoppe is the current GOP Chair of the Commerce Committee.
After quoting the state statute regarding MCHA coverage, Rep. Joe Hoppe wrote the following to the Enrollee Appeals Committee:
"This statute was not intended to prevent individuals like Lisa, who desperately need coverage from MCHA, from qualifying for coverage. The statute would never have been written this way if lawmakers knew it would force a cancer patient to choose between bankruptcy and an avoidable early death. ... MCHA was created to help Minnesotans just like Lisa, who have preexisting conditions preventing them from adequate coverage in times of serious illness."
This morning, Commissioner Rothman granted the appeal, which will enable Lisa to get the treatment she needs to save her life.