Texarkana, TX 49° View Live Radar Sat H 74° L 58° Sun H 75° L 55° Mon H 66° L 46° Weather Sponsored By:

Suit aims at insurance companies

Suit aims at insurance companies

Plaintiffs say profits put above patients suffering from Lyme disease

November 19th, 2017 by Lynn LaRowe in Texarkana News

Major health insurance companies are accused of putting profits over patients suffering from Lyme disease in a lawsuit filed recently in a Texarkana, Texas, federal court.

The suit alleges companies including Blue Cross, Kaiser and Aetna violated RICO and anti-trust laws when conspiring with physician members of the Infectious Diseases Society of America to create guidelines for testing and treating the tick-borne illness that don't identify all of those infected and that leave many patients still suffering after their insurance refuses to cover necessary continued treatment.

The suit alleges that doctors who speak up against the IDSA guidelines or who treat patients with expensive antibiotics beyond the 28-day regimen outlined in the guidelines are subjected to retaliation, which includes the possible loss of their medical licenses. The complaint alleges the members of the IDSA panel who establish the Lyme disease guidelines are on the insurance companies' payrolls and benefit financially from the conspiracy.

The complaint lists 24 plaintiffs from 13 states, including Texas and Arkansas, who are either sufferers of Lyme disease or who are related to a Lyme disease victim. Named as defendants are the IDSA, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Anthem Inc., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., Kaiser Permanente Inc., United Healthcare Services Inc., United Healthcare Group Inc., Dr. Gary Wormser, Dr. Raymond Dattwyler, Dr. Eugene Shapiro, Dr. John Halperin, Dr. Robert Nadelman, Dr. Leonard Sigal and Dr. Allen Steere.

Among the plaintiffs is the wife of David Kocurek, Ph.D., of Texas. Kocurek served on NASA's aerodynamics oversight committee and published research internationally, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges Kocurek suffered with Lyme disease symptoms, including headaches, nerve pain, muscle pain, fatigue, fever, tremors and more for years.

"He visited more than 25 doctors and was told he did not have Lyme disease. He even tested negative for Lyme disease based on the ISDA testing guidelines," the complaint states. "He was finally diagnosed as 'very positive' for Lyme and began treatment. His doctor agreed to treat him for chronic Lyme disease until she was told she could lose her medical degree if she continued to treat chronic Lyme patients. He went from doctor to doctor and was forced to pay out-of-pocket because his insurer refused to cover his treatment. David Kocurek died from Lyme disease on April 13, 2016."

The complaint alleges the insurance companies and the ISDA doctors target doctors who attempt to question the guidelines or treat Lyme disease with longer than a 28-day antibiotic course.

"There are doctors all over the country who have been reported to their medical boards by the insurance defendants because they violate the IDSA guidelines and try to save the lives of their patients," the complaint states.

The complaint alleges that some doctors have spent millions defending themselves.

"Dr. Charles Ray Jones is the world's leading pediatric specialist on Lyme disease. Yet, Dr. Jones has been hounded by the Connecticut State Medical Board for years and his patients and colleagues have had to help to defray the costs of his legal defense," the complaint alleges.

The case is pending before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas. The plaintiffs' lawyers include Eugene Egdorf and Ryan Higgins of Houston and Lance Lee of Texarkana.



Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com