Woman With HIV Sues HMO for Liver Transplant Coverage
The AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts plans to ask a federal judge today for an emergency order to "force" a health insurance company to pay for a liver transplant for a woman infected with HIV and hepatitis C, the Boston Globe reports. The Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders first filed suit against Neighborhood Health Plan on behalf of Belynda Dunn, who had initially requested a liver transplant four months ago. The insurer denied Dunn's request, and its internal appeals board has rejected two subsequent requests. Physicians say that Dunn, who would receive a portion of her brother's liver, will die before the end of the year if she does not receive the transplant. Bennett Klein, a GLAD attorney, said that NHP's decision to reject the transplant was "based on outdated notions about HIV," namely that "liver transplants should not be done" for people infected with the virus. Klein added that "[a]t least" 20 health plans "routinely" cover liver transplants for individuals with HIV and hepatitis C. Dunn stated, "I will not be a victim of an insurance company's cost-saving measures." The Globe was unable to reach an NHP representative for comment (Belkin, Boston Globe, 7/18).