From: Herbert Stein [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 12:00 AM
To: Madam Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
Subject: VNS Therapy for Depression...
Dear Madam Secretary Burwell,
Once again I write to you addressing the current news regarding the spread of Ebola and the World Health Organizations position to fast tract an experimental drug and the death of Robin Williams and the fact that severe depression kills tens of thousands Americans each year brings me back to my position and advocacy that CMS is simply not doing enough for depression patients and worse yet their decision to deny medical coverage to implanted volunteer study subjects and patients already benefiting from VNS Therapy is not only unconscionable, egregious and immoral but criminal in my opinion.
While I am aware that efforts within CMS are being made to informally address and care for those Medicare/Medicaid patients who were implanted prior to the May 4, 2007 national determination to deny coverage I ask that a written document to this effect be issued to formalize their care. I also advocate for those patients covered by private health insurance carriers such as United Healthcare that continue to deny care and coverage for the same patient population. The private health insurers jumped on the May 4, 2007 decision to deny but seem to have ignored CMS recent events and the U.S. Administrative Law Judge Troy Smith’s decision.
I’ve been informed that CMS has no authority over the private health insurers but that should not preclude the fact that CEO’s of these companies should be made aware as to CMS informally providing care for the Medicare/Medicaid study subjects and patients and the recent ruling by Judge Troy Smith. Maybe an informal letter from you addressing this issue might influence Mr. Stephen J. Hemsley - CEO, United Healthcare and other insurers to change their positions as it relates to the existing VNS Therapy patients.
In my opinion that is the least you can do to share your concern for these patients trying to maintain their wellness. Do we need more individuals dying like Robin Williams? Here we have patients that have and are benefiting from a therapy only to be denied insurance coverage by their carriers. Can you not see the irony and sadness of all this bureaucratic crap?
Please, do something constructive and beneficial. Issue a “Compassionate Use” letter for the exiting patients and write an informal letter to these CEO’s. Ten minutes of your letter writing time should suffice to right these wrongs.
Joyce and Herbert Stein
1008 Trailmore Lane
Weston, FL 33326-2816
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