Thousands of men potentially denied life saving prostate cancer treatment
| Judge rips “immoral and barbaric” health insurance ‘death panel’ that denied life-saving coverage
| By Abigail Weinberg, May 1, 2019
| Mother Jones – When a personal injury attorney had to pay $85,000 out of pocket for a life-saving prostate cancer treatment, he filed a class-action lawsuit against his insurer, United Healthcare.
On Monday, the judge assigned to hear the case recused himself: not only had he been recommended the same treatment for his own prostate cancer, but a friend of his had paid $150,000 for the treatment when United Healthcare denied him coverage.
“He said that his own health insurer seemed only to focus on making money. “
Proton beam radiation therapy has been an accepted cancer treatment method since the 1980s, according to the Washington Post, but United Healthcare denied the treatment to Miami-based attorney Richard Cole on the grounds that it was “experimental,” Cole said.
Although Cole was able to afford his medical care, he filed the lawsuit on behalf of the potentially thousands of others who had been denied treatment as well.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. recused himself from the case because he felt that his personal experiences with prostate cancer prevented him from viewing the situation impartially.
He wrote in his order of recusal that although he opted for surgery rather than radiation therapy, medical experts’ positive opinions toward radiation still resonated with him. (Cole’s case has been reassigned to another judge.)
Two other judges had previously recused themselves, saying they knew Cole too well to judge his case fairly.
Scola wrote in his recusal letter that a “very close friend” of his was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and that United Healthcare had refused to pay for his proton radiation treatment.
“Fortunately, he had the resources to pay $150,000 for the treatment, and only upon threat of litigation did United Healthcare agree to reimburse him,” he wrote.
The judge went on to rebuke the insurance company for denying patients care.