Sick Woman's Family Battles Health Insurance Company

Family says woman would meet "certain death" without funding for a nurse that health provider won't pay for anymore

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    9/2/2014: Family says woman would meet "certain death" without funding for a nurse that health provider won't pay for anymore. NBC 5's Natalie Martinez reports. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014)

    A suburban family filed a complaint in federal court Tuesday after their health provider decided to pull a portion of their coverage for a sick woman.

    Stephanie DiCara, 23, suffers from a muscular atrophy condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth that has no cure or treatment. At 5 years old she was forced to use a power wheelchair and was a complete paraplegic by the age of 11.

    "It's where the nerves that feed the muscles in the hands and feet degenerate," Stephanie's father, Mark DiCara, said.

    Stephanie DiCara is also unable to breathe on her own, which is why she needs a nurse around the clock to make sure her ventilator keeps pumping.

    "I wouldn't be able to do anything without them. I really wouldn't be able to," Stephanie DiCara said. "They're pretty much my best friends."

    Now the family says the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield won't pay for her nurses anymore.

    "Blue Cross is saying people on ventilators don't need a skilled nurse, heck you can train a volunteer to fix the vent, to suction her," Mark DiCara said.

    "They're dumping people saying it's custodial care. Brush her teeth and comb her hair -- there's no way as a man and lawyer that I could possibly operate the vent and know blood gases and oxygenation and so forth."

    The family's complaint says if Stephanie remains at home without her nurses, she'll meet a "certain death."

    "If nurses leave, even for an hour, Stephanie will have to go to ICU. We are not capable of taking care of her. It's not for lack of desire or will, we're just not capable," Mark DiCara said.

    The family is seeking to get a temporary restraining order. A hearing will be held next week to try and force the company to pay the nurses for at least 14 days.

    A spokesperson from Blue Cross Blue Shield did not return calls for comment.