MERIDIAN-- A local woman battling stage 4 colon cancer is fighting a decision by her insurance company to discontinue coverage of a drug she says could keep her alive.
Mountain Home teacher Danni Gilbert gathered more than 100,000 signatures online in support of her cause and presented them to Blue Cross of Idaho Tuesday in Meridian.
While Blue Cross has been paying for her chemotherapy and radiation treatment, Gilbert says they stopped paying for the cancer drug Avastin.
Blue Cross says they only stopped because the drug wasn't working.
She had 30 rounds of Avastin over better than a year and in April her doctors discontinued it because it wasn't working. Her tumors grew on the Avastin and the standard of care is when that happens, you should discontinue the drug and not take it again, said Karen Early, Blue Cross of Idaho.
Her doctor started her back on Avastin in June after a study came out suggesting a second round of treatment could help, but Blue Cross says a second round is an experimental procedure that it does not pay for.
I know that part of deciding whether or not something should be used is based on available data that's out there, said Gilbert. I feel like my doctors made a decision that takes into account that, plus what's best for me. And to have Blue Cross standing between me and my doctor's recommendation is really unfortunate.
Danni plans to appeal a second time to Blue Cross, and in the meantime is paying for the drug out of pocket, more than $6,000 a month. Blue Cross says they offered her an external review of their decision outside of the appeal process, but she has not accepted that.