The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Aren’t We Sick of It Yet?

When are we going to get sick of stories like this happening over and over again?

Stacie Ritter stood outside health insurer Cigna Corp’s Philadelphia headquarters clutching photocopied pictures of her four-year-old, cancer-stricken daughters as she shouted "shame."

Ritter, 35, along with thousands who protested outside the offices of major health insurers last week, gives voice to the complaint that companies may reap billions from health-care overhaul even as they deny treatments.

She says her identical twins, Madeline and Hannah, now 11, were denied hormone therapy prescribed by her endocrinologist. Cigna Communications Director Chris Curran says two other endocrinologists determined the girls don’t need the drugs.

…Ritter, from Manheim, Pennsylvania, says Aetna, her former insurance company, had been covering the drugs until her husband’s company switched to Cigna, which denied the hormones. The late Dr. Thomas Moshang, former head of endocrinology at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, prescribed them after determining the girls were not growing properly.

Ritter said state law made it difficult to pursue a lawsuit. Madeline and Hannah now receive the drugs through a grant from Eli Lilly & Co., the manufacturer.

Cigna says it is the first time it’s hearing of Ritter’s concerns. The endocrinologists who reviewed the case found "no need for the drug," said Curran, the spokesman. He later clarified that it’s the first time Cigna had heard "she did not agree with our decision."

Why aren’t we sick of families like the Ritters being denied coverage (and thus denied care) and ending up in bankruptcy, while people like health insurance CEO Stephen Helmsley make $57,000 an hour?

Why aren’t we sick of insurance companies getting away with stuff like this?

How many families like Stacie Ritter’s families like Stacie Ritter’s could get health care coverage for the cost of the war in Iraq? How many could be spared bankruptcy with just what we spent on contractors in Iraq? How about just what we spent on Blackwater alone? How many families could get access to quality, affordable care for the cost of the Bush tax cuts (PDF)? How many could be helped with just the money that the Gang of Six got from the insurance industry?

Why haven’t our leaders done anything about it? Because we haven’t yet been able to make them do it. Why haven’t we made them do it? Because, apparently, we’re not sick of it yet.

When will we be sick of it? When we’re sick, or when someone in our family is sick?

Will it be too late?

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