KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare Disability Recipient Dies Of Brain Tumor After Having Coverage Interrupted

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Paula Oertel, whose brain tumor disappeared for nine years while she was on an expensive drug and returned after she temporarily lost her insurance coverage, has died as a result of the tumor spreading through her brain. The interruption of her Medicare coverage of the drug directly contributed to her death, contends her doctor, Mark Malkin, chief of neuro-oncology at Froedtert Hospital. … She was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme 12 years ago when she was 29. The tumor is highly malignant and the most common primary malignant brain tumor in adults, affecting about 9,000 Americans a year. … As a last resort, doctors tried beta interferon, which has shown some promise but is not approved to treat brain cancer. … Within months the tumor disappeared, and for nine years there was no sign of it on repeated brain scans. Medicare paid for the drug for the next nine years. Due to a mix-up, Oertel temporarily lost her Medicare health coverage in November 2007" (Fauber, 8/12).
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