Mansell, Engel & Cole

Insurer castigated in wake of disability rights activist’s death

Carrie Ann Lucas lived a dynamic and meaningful life that ended early late last month at the age of 47.

Friends and advocates of her tireless work as an attorney on behalf of disabled individuals say that Lucas’ premature death was not only sad, but potentially avoidable as well.

And they lay blame on a health insurance company for its occurrence.

Lucas suffered from a prominent disability herself, which inspired those who interacted generally with her or worked alongside her over the years in her efforts to help others. She had what one recent media piece chronicling her life and passing termed “a rare form of muscular dystrophy.” That condition confined her to a wheelchair, disrupted her breathing and interfered with her hearing and vision.

Notwithstanding those challenges, Lucas’ advocacy on behalf of others was both passionate and unflagging. She once helped organize a sit-in at a legislator’s office protesting a measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act that lasted nearly 60 hours and yielded her arrest.

Lucas’ health took a turn for the worse earlier this year, when she contracted a lung infection. Her doctor recommended a specific medication, but UnitedHealthcare refused to approve it, forcing her to use a cheaper alternative. Reportedly, that “less effective” drug played havoc with her bodily functions. She died shortly after she began to take it.

Her supporters point an accusatory finger at the insurer. Her obituary cites its “arbitrary denial” of the preferred medication and the direct role it allegedly played in causing her premature death.

“Carrie Ann Lucas died to save $2,000,” stated a principal with the public policy and advocacy group Center for American Progress.

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