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Dying man denied coverage for cancer treatment

Posted at 9:21 PM, Feb 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 09:37:23-05

SPARTA, Mich. — A man dying from cancer is being told by his insurance company they won't cover the treatment that could save his life.

Forrest VanPatten is just 50 years old. He says he only has a few months left. But he's spending the end of his life fighting with his health insurance to cover the treatment that could save him.

“Everything that gets processed through the insurance company is just a rejection, rejection, rejection,” VanPatten said.

VanPatten has large b-cell lymphoma. The treatment his doctors say he needs is called Car-T treatment. It works by taking a patient's own modified white blood cells to kill the cancerous ones.

His insurer, Priority Health, is denying coverage for the treatment.

"I feel like I’m being ignored. Left out to die, basically, that’s the problem,” VanPatten said.

A federal mandate passed in 2019 guarantees coverage for Medcaid beneficiaries nationwide.

Forrest's son, Donovan, took to Twitter explaining the problem with coverage.

“When the insurance company tells you no, we can’t do what your father needs to get him better. ... It’s a slap to the face, I mean. ... It feels like he’s just a number in their system ... not a person. ... I mean, he’s my dad,” Donovan VanPatten said.

The insurance company responded, saying, "Your dad's care is very important to us." They explained that due to privacy reasons, they don't discuss care or coverage concerns publicly. They also said they are looking into the situation.

But for Forrest, he's worried there isn't much time left.

“We decided we need to push and push and push, because there’s nothing else,” he said.

A GoFundMe for Forrest's medical treatment can be found here.