Almost five years ago, young Nataline Sarkisyan, a child fashion designer from California with a bright future ahead of her, died when mega-profit insurance company Cigna refused to pay her doctors for the transplant that could have saved her young life.
Today, as the Daily News out of Los Angeles reports, her parents still weep:
They weep still for their blue-eyed Nataline.
Their tears flow for what they remember: Their daughter in her room, the pink walls decorated with posters of the Jonas Brothers. They see her there sketching in a notebook the dresses and blouses and jackets she would one day like to design.
Nataline Sarkisyan died in a UCLA hospital bed on Dec. 20, 2007. She was 17. Her story drew nationwide attention because the liver transplant she needed was denied by her family’s health insurer, CIGNA.
With their beautiful daughter gone, however, their determination to fight for the rights of American patients remains strong:
For Hilda and Krikor Sarkisyan, who live in Porter Ranch, anguish remains for the daughter who never came back to her pink room. But so too does their determination to keep Nataline’s story alive, to save others.
The family established the Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation, and since then has organized an annual fashion show to raise scholarship funds for students interested in the arts and medicine. The fifth annual show is scheduled for this weekend in Calabasas.
They also continue to implore lawmakers to change a federal law that prevented them – and will stop other families – from suing CIGNA and other health insurance carriers for refusing to pay for treatment.
Nataline’s parents are targeting a federal law, ERISA, that mega-profit insurance companies, like Cigna, use to protect themselves from lawsuits when they murder through denial:
Hilda Sarkisyan said her life’s goal is to repeal a provision of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 that protects insurance companies from being sued for lack of coverage.
Flanked by power attorney Mark Geragos, the Sarkisyans tried to sue CIGNA shortly after Nataline’s death. But with ERISA in place, they were unable to touch the insurance provider.
The provision is so tightly ingrained into the way health insurance works that even President Barack Obama’s extensive health care reform bill couldn’t touch it, said Wendell Potter, the former vice president of corporate communications at CIGNA, who resigned from the company in 2008 and later testified against it as a whistle-blower.
Potter even came to the Sarkisyans’ home, and on national television, apologized to the family.
“The Sarkisyans’ case highlighted a broken system that exists and continues to exist,” Potter said.
Of course, the disgusting human beings at Cigna gambling on premium dollars — and thus profiting from the chance for human suffering and sickness — refused to comment on Nataline’s death.
CIGNA this month did not respond to a request for comment on Nataline’s case, saying the company does not respond during pending litigation. Hilda Sarkisyan has filed a complaint against CIGNA, not directly based on her daughter’s death because that would be precluded by ERISA, but stemming from an incident in 2009 in which she alleges mistreatment by a company employee.
Let’s keep Nataline’s story alive by reminding @Cigna via Twitter that we will not stop until their corporation is denied the right to abuse patients in the United States, replaced by Medicare for all.
You might also want to post on Cigna’s revolting ‘Go You’ Facebook page, where this evil corporation attempts to sugarcoat their immoral and unethical business.
No, Cigna, it’s not Go You!, it’s Go Nataline!