AGG Healthcare Litigation partner Rich Collins presented the National Association for Proton Therapy’s (“NAPT”) webinar, “Beyond the Legal Battle: Navigating Litigation Options and Strategies to Enhance Patient Access to Proton Therapy,” on July 13, 2023. Rich shared his experience litigating on behalf of healthcare providers and their patients in a national effort to expand access to proton radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Rich joined a panel that included distinguished radiation oncologist, Dr. Andrew Chang, M.D., and attorneys, Doug Terry and Matt Sharp, who shared about their recent trial court victory against a UnitedHealthcare subsidiary for its bad faith denial of coverage for proton radiation therapy. Rich spoke about his efforts in the trial and appellate courts, and a recent petition to the Supreme Court of the United States that are focused on removing barriers and limitations to accessing this lifesaving treatment in America’s federally regulated health insurance programs — Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), Federal Employee Health Benefits Act (“FEHBA”), and the Medicare Advantage program. Rich also shared his knowledge of the insurance industry based on his more than 30 years of experience and provided his outlook on how the insurance industry will likely respond to the increased awareness and exposure to proton radiation therapy and the growth in proton centers across the country. The webinar was moderated by Jennifer Maggiore, NAPT Executive Director, and Sarah Galen, Director of Education. The webinar was attended by a number of radiation oncologists, proton radiation therapy facility and cancer center administrators, and other industry stakeholders who all share in the goal of saving lives by delivering proton radiation therapy to more Americans.
Proton radiation therapy is a procedure that uses protons to deliver a curative radiation dose to a tumor with fewer complications and side effects than traditional intensity modulated radiotherapy. The protons deposit their energy over a very small area called the “Bragg peak,” which can be used to target high doses of proton beams to a tumor, while reducing doses and doing less damage to surrounding healthy tissues and organs. Proton beams enable patients to tolerate higher total doses of radiotherapy compared with photons used for traditional radiation, and the beam can be adjusted and shaped to match the size and shape of the cancerous tissue to be destroyed, while not killing healthy tissue beyond a pre-determined scope and depth. Although the invention of proton therapy is credited to physicist Robert Wilson, who first described it theoretically in 1946, and despite the Food and Drug Administration’s (“FDA”) approval in 1988, numerous meticulous peer-reviewed studies validating its safety and effectiveness, and its use by world-renowned radiation oncologists and cancer facilities, many commercial health insurance companies persist in wrongfully denying coverage for proton therapy on the basis that it is “experimental,” “investigational,” or “unproven” treatment.
Rich has represented a variety of providers and other professionals in matters involving insurance recovery, business litigation, and administrative and regulatory matters. He is committed to enforcing our laws to ensure affordable, equitable, and accessible healthcare, and actively makes efforts to change the policies and procedures of insurance companies to ensure patients receive optimal healthcare. For more information about proton radiation therapy and the insurance coverage and litigation related to the treatment, please contact Rich Collins.