To the surprise of no one sensible, it turns out that John Edwards’s and Daily Kos’s claims about Nataline Sarkisyan, the 17-year-old California woman who recently died awaiting a liver transplant, are false:
- Independent reviewing doctors unanimously recommended against the liver transplant as too risky, which is why CIGNA refused to grant approval.
- CIGNA changed its mind in response to political pressure and publicity, but their delay in approval probably would not have affected Sarkisyan, as several reports indicate her treating medical institution, UCLA, would not have waited for insurance approval if a donor organ became available. (For example, Forbes.)
- And, of course, US patients are far more likely to get organ transplants (and survive organ transplants) than patients in single-payer health care systems—so Edwards has absolutely no solution for the problem of people getting sick and dying in a world of scarcity.
Scott Gottlieb has details in the Wall Street Journal. Attorney Mark Geragos has been retained to sue CIGNA, though CIGNA was only administering Sarkisyan’s health insurance plan, and would have suffered no financial repercussions from approving the transplant.
(Disclosure: I own between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in CIGNA.)