The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

The Real Death Panels


More than one out of every five requests for medical claims for insured
patients, even when recommended by a patient's physician, are rejected
by California's largest private insurers, amounting to very real death
panels in practice daily in the nation's biggest state, according to
data released Wednesday by the California Nurses Association/National
Nurses Organizing Committee.

CNA/NNOC researchers analyzed data reported by the insurers to the
California Department of Managed Care. From 2002 through June 30, 2009,
six of the largest insurers operating in California rejected 47.7
million claims for care -- 22 percent of all claims.

Idelson and Preston are spokespersons for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee
(CNA/NNOC). Burger is a CNA/NNOC co-president. Burger said today: "With
all the dishonest claims made by some politicians about alleged 'death
panels' in proposed national legislation, the reality for patients
today is a daily, cold-hearted rejection of desperately needed medical
care by the nation's biggest and wealthiest insurance companies simply
because they don't want to pay for it.

"The routine denial of care by private insurers is like the elephant in
the room no one in the present national healthcare debate seems to want
to talk about. Nothing in any of the major bills advancing in the
Senate or House or proposed by the administration would challenge this

Claims denial rates by leading California insurers, first six months of 2009:

* PacifiCare -- 39.6 percent
* Cigna -- 32.7 percent
* HealthNet -- 30 percent
* Kaiser Permanente -- 28.3 percent
* Blue Cross -- 27.9 percent
* Aetna -- 6.4 percent

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.