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RNs, Family Protest Denial of Critical Surgery for Orange County ICU Nurse

Nurses' Campaign Floods Blue Cross with Message: Save Our Colleague

COSTA MESA, Calif., March 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Registered nurses, family, and concerned community members will protest Blue Cross of California in support of 46-year-old Kim Kutcher, RN, as she battles Blue Cross and its decision to sentence her to a possible lifetime of disability by denying her back surgery that doctors and nurses believe is critically important.

The nurses will accompany the family and demand to speak directly to a Blue Cross corporate decision maker. Kutcher vows to go through with her surgery scheduled for March 11 at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, even if she has to pay out of pocket and lose her house in the process.

Blue Cross Protest

When: Monday, March 10, 1:00 p.m.

Where: Blue Cross Office

3070 Bristol St. # 400

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee put out a call to nurses from around the country who have flooded Blue Cross' offices with calls and faxes, in an urgent appeal to the insurance company to overturn its decision and save the health of their colleague.

Kutcher has degenerative disc disease -- related to her years of nursing -- and her neurosurgeon recommends an artificial disc to solve the problem and allow her to return to work as a critical care nurse. Calling the procedure "investigational," despite the FDA's approval of it, Blue Cross is instead pushing a different high-risk procedure that will fuse two of her discs together.

"I am getting this procedure because I want to get back to work as a critical care nurse. I have been on state disability for nine months and I am in severe pain," said Kutcher. "I have grave doubts about my chances to return as an RN if I have the procedure recommended by Blue Cross, which is spinal fusion. I have been unable to find a single critical care nurse who returned to work after fusion."

To join in, please call:

(818) 234-2345 Ron McGinnis, grievance and appeals

(805) 557-6791 Peggy Hinz, corporate communications

(818) 234-3095 Theresa Peterson, supervisor

Kutcher noted the strong possibility of age bias in this decision, as the treatment she seeks has recently been approved for a 26-year-old friend. "So for one person, the surgery is 'investigational' and for another not?" asked Kutcher.

"Ironically, Blue Cross has been running radio ads touting the money they have donated to produce more nurses in California," said Geri Jenkins, an RN who works at UC San Diego and is one of four elected CNA/NNOC presidents. "Kim Kutcher is a trained critical care nurse and they won't even pay for the surgery she needs that will return her to work in a profession that is desperate for experienced RNs. This is not a humane system, and any reforms that reinforce and reward those who profit off pain and suffering will not end our national healthcare nightmare."

Background on Kutcher case:

Back in May, Kutcher was running five to six days a week, enjoying life, working as a nurse in an intensive care unit -- an occupation she loves -- and doing the normal day-to-day things a mother of four children does.

"I am sick and tired of Blue Cross," said Maree Kutcher, Kutcher's 17-year-old daughter. "When I hear their commercial anywhere, I turn it off. Blue Cross is taking away my mother's life. I will do anything to get it back."

"I miss my life. That is why I am going forward with the disc replacement procedure, which is less invasive, has easier recovery, and gives me a quicker return to work. I cannot live one more day like this. I worry about my general health and wonder what the stress of this ordeal will do to me in the long run. I never wanted surgery, and did everything I could to avoid it."

Disc replacement, a proven treatment, was FDA approved in 2004. The first disc replacement in the US goes back to 1998, and has been the preferred treatment for degenerative disc disease in Europe since 1984. Among the insurance companies that cover ADR surgery are Aetna, Cigna, Kaiser, and worker's compensation.

This story is emblematic of the millions of Americans who suffer at the hands of heartless insurance corporations dedicated to denying care, not providing it. Her story and other webisodes are part of a series produced by CNA/NNOC called Real People Denied Real Healthcare and can be viewed at

CNA/NNOC is an endorser of SB 840, Sen. Sheila Kuehl's bill to establish single-payer financing in the healthcare system -- a "Medicare for All" model that would eliminate the insurance industry middleman, which was vetoed by Arnold Schwarzenegger last year and has been re-introduced in this year's legislative session.

CNA/NNOC is the nation's largest and fastest-growing union of direct-care RNs, with some 80,000 members in all 50 states.

SOURCE California Nurses Association
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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