Spitting it out:
"Couple cites donor misrepresentation in sperm bank suit" by Kate Brumback Associated Press April 20, 2015
ATLANTA — He was good on paper: Eloquent, mature, healthy, and smart to boot.
That’s why Angela Collins and Margaret Elizabeth Hanson say they chose Donor 9623 to be the biological father of their child.
Then last June, almost seven years after Collins gave birth to a son conceived with his sperm, they got a batch of e-mails from the sperm bank that unexpectedly — and perhaps mistakenly — included the donor’s name.
That set them on a sleuthing mission that quickly revealed he is schizophrenic, dropped out of college, and had been arrested for burglary, they said in a lawsuit filed March 31 in Atlanta.
On top of that, the photo of him they had seen when deciding on a donor had been altered to remove a large mole on his cheek, the suit says.
Collins and Hanson said the Atlanta sperm bank promoted the donor’s sperm, saying it came from a man with an IQ of 160, an undergraduate degree in neuroscience, and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence who was pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience engineering.
He was eloquent, ‘‘mature beyond his years’,’ and had ‘‘an impressive health history,’’ sperm bank staff told them, according to the lawsuit.
‘‘They represented him, both orally and in their donor literature, to be the best of the best,’’ said Nancy Hersh, a lawyer for the pair.
The women, who live in Ontario, sued Xytex Corp., its parent company, sperm bank employees, and the man they say was the misrepresented donor — the biological father of at least three dozen children, the lawsuit states.
A phone number could not be obtained for Collins and Hanson, and Hersh declined to make them available for an interview. A message left at a number matching the donor’s name was not returned.
The Associated Press is not identifying the donor because it was unable to verify all of the claims in the lawsuit.
James Johnson, a lawyer for the donor, said they are trying to get the lawsuit dismissed and declined to comment further.
A Xytex spokeswoman referred inquiries to an open letter that company president Kevin O’Brien posted on the sperm bank’s website, in which he wrote that the couple’s claims ‘‘do not reflect the representations provided to Xytex.’’
The donor had a standard medical exam, provided extensive personal information, said he had no physical or medical impairments and provided photos of himself and copies of his undergraduate and graduate degrees, O’Brien wrote.
The couple was ‘‘clearly informed the representations were reported by the donor and were not verified by Xytex,’’ he wrote.
Hersh contests that: ‘‘They don’t say, ‘This is what he told us.’ They say, ‘This is who he is.’ ’’
The case shines a spotlight on an industry that has existed for decades but remains loosely regulated.
Food and Drug Administration requirements for screening sperm donors are limited to screening for contagious or infectious diseases, like syphilis or HIV. They don’t require genetic testing.
I can't hold back anymore. Where do you want it?
"When an insurer says no to surgery; Wider issues remain after a shift to cover double mastectomies" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff April 17, 2015
Phuli Cohan consulted half a dozen doctors. She agonized. She cried. And finally, she decided that a double mastectomy — removing her cancerous breast and her healthy one — was the best way to rid herself of breast cancer and prevent a recurrence.
She was at peace with her decision the night before her surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Then her doctor’s office called. Her insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, would not cover the full cost of her operation because it did not deem the removal of Cohan’s left breast — the one without cancer — medically necessary.
Cohan, 58, of Newton, was blindsided by an update to the medical policies at Blue Cross, the state’s largest health insurer.
After the Globe inquired, the insurer approved coverage for Cohan and another woman who had been denied coverage. The six other women who were initially turned down for coverage have also been approved.
Their cases raise questions about how insurers will cover expensive procedures as pressures to control costs intensify. They also underscore one of the central questions of health care: Who decides which procedures are medically necessary?
That issue will persist as the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover more medical services while also keeping costs in check — pushing companies to be more discerning about which patients to cover for which procedures.
“There are so many procedures and new technologies that are being recommended that it’s difficult to decide what’s appropriate for which patient,” said Wendy K. Mariner, professor at Boston University School of Public Health. “Despite the money insurers make, we can be somewhat sympathetic to the difficulties they have in determining what’s appropriate for individual patients, especially now that everything has to be covered.”
Looks like rationing to me.
Blue Cross officials said they never meant to deny coverage to the women. They said the problems stemmed from new language in their policies, which confused doctors, patients, and their own employees who approve claims.
Didn't someone once say if you like your plan....??
Given the confusion and difficulties the new language caused for some patients, Blue Cross, after an internal investigation last week, said it is tweaking the language again.
It's supposed to be a LAW, but we see what that means in 21st-century AmeriKa these days!
A double mastectomy, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, is an increasingly popular treatment option for women with breast cancer. About 11 percent of women with cancer in one breast opted to have both breasts removed in 2011, up from about 2 percent in 1998, according to a recent study.
Like many women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, Cohan faced the awful choice of giving up her breasts or living a life of constant monitoring and worry. During that phone call the night before her March 11 surgery, Cohan was told that despite the tumors in her right breast and a family history of breast cancer, Blue Cross did not consider removal of her healthy breast necessary because she did not carry specific genes associated with high risks of breast cancer or meet other criteria in the insurer’s policy.
Cohan had the operation anyway, then filed a grievance to get Blue Cross to pay for the procedure. As she recovered at home and adjusted to the idea of never again having sensation in her breasts, doubts cut through the fog of painkillers. She wondered: Had she made the right decision?
“I just can’t think of one good reason they denied me,” said Cohan, a physician who specializes in women’s health. Cohan’s payment was approved last week, one day after the Globe inquired with Blue Cross.
Confusion over Blue Cross’s policy left another Brigham patient, Ariel Holmes, in medical limbo....
I'm going to cut it off right there.
And when the kids grow up:
"Many teens drop out of school to aid families" by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel Washington Post April 17, 2015
WASHINGTON — Teenagers drop out of high school for all sorts of reasons: lack of motivation, little support from parents, poor academic performance. But for some low-income students, the decision to leave is economic. Many are going to work to help their family.
These 16- to 18-year-olds were disproportionately male and Hispanic. Granted, high school graduation rates among Hispanic students has climbed. Still, six out of 10 of the teenagers identified in the study earned less than $10,000 a year working in restaurants, in construction, or cleaning, among other fields. A third contributed more than 20 percent of their household income, and a tenth created more than 50 percent.
Hey, at least the top 10%, 1%, .01%, are doing well. That's all I'm concerned about when I wake up in the morning after waking in terror screaming "Globe!" every morning at 4 a.m. That's what gets me $tiff.
On average, what these teenagers earned made up almost a quarter of the money their families needed to live. And that money kept 42 percent of households above the poverty line. Given that wages are stagnant and many high-paying blue-collar jobs are disappearing, more low-income families could simply need more workers in their household to stay afloat, the study concluded.
No jobs for them, but welcome back to the days of Lords and Serfs.
Molly Scott, one of the authors of the report, said ‘‘These kids have a lot of economic responsibility at a young age.’’
I was always told you developed a good work ethic from such things, and that freedom would come with it.
As long as they don't smoke or do drugs.