Judge Recuses Himself After Blasting United Healthcare for “Immoral and Barbaric” Coverage Denial

By on May 2, 2019

A Florida federal judge removed himself from a proposed class action alleging UnitedHealthcare improperly classified proton radiation therapy as experimental to avoid covering the procedure, used to treat prostate cancer.

The judge recounted his own experience with prostate cancer, and the experience of a close friend, in deciding that he could not fairly oversee the action that had been assigned to him.  According to the judge, the research he undertook when considering his own treatment led him to conclude at that time that “It [was] undisputed among legitimate medical experts that proton radiation therapy is not experimental and causes much less collateral damage than traditional radiation.”  Moreover, the judge recounted that a friend had been denied initially the same treatment, paid $150,000 for the treatment, and was only reimbursed after threatening to sue.

The judge recused himself from the case, explaining that “To deny a patient this treatment, if it is available, is immoral and barbaric. The court’s opinions in this matter prevent it from deciding this case fairly and impartially.”

Insurance policies typically exclude from coverage procedures that are experimental or investigational. However, different companies can classify treatments differently. In the case of proton radiation therapy, according to the class action complaint, other insurers, including Medicare, do not consider it experimental and cover it.

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