Cancer patients file lawsuit against Oklahoma insurance company for denying coverage

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OKLAHOMA CITY - It is a cancer treatment some say could save lives, but at least two patients have come forwarding claiming Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is refusing to cover it.

It’s been more than a decade, but Sen. Ron Sharp is still fighting to keep her memory alive.

"I had a cousin whose daughter died of cancer at the age of 3 years old,” he said.

Her name was Allison Faith Web.

She died back 2003 from brain cancer, because the treatments of radiation she underwent were just too much for her little body to handle.

"The cure killed the patient, and, of course, she had to receive tremendous radiation treatment,” Sharp said. "She was just not capable of handling that kind of radiation treatment."

Sharp says proton therapy was not an option back then, but today for many Oklahomans, it is.

However, fighting the illness is not the only battle. Some say they are also battling insurance companies that will not pay for treatments like proton therapy.

"This is excellent for children,” Sharp said. “It would also be excellent for elderly people whose bodies are fragile."

Earlier this month, two Oklahomans filed two different lawsuits claiming Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma refused to pay for their proton therapy treatment.

Sharp was behind House Bill 1515. It went into effect in November and basically prevents insurance companies from denying coverage.

"If it is doctor recommended that this patient would best receive treatment under this proton therapy, that the insurance company must cover it,” he said.

One of the patients followed through with the treatment, and now Blue Cross is refusing to pay for it. The other plaintiff is not receiving treatment because it will not be covered.

Attorney Billy Coyle says not only is that against state law, but the patients are entitled to more than payment for treatment.

"If you find that an insurance company has acted in bad faith, not only are you entitled to damages, but you're entitled to punitive damages that this company acted with malicious intent,” Coyle said. “They knew that it was wrong to do this, and they went ahead and did it anyway."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma tells NewsChannel Four they do not comment on pending litigation.