December 22nd, 2007
05:25 PM ET
14 years ago

Edwards invokes Nataline Sarkisyan death

CORALVILLE, Iowa, (CNN) - In his stump speech assault on entrenched corporate interests and health care companies Saturday, former Sen. John Edwards invoked the recent and controversial death of Nataline Sarkisyan.

Sarkisyan is the 17-year-old girl who died Thursday night at UCLA Medical Center, shortly after her health insurance company reportedly reversed its decision not to pay for a liver transplant.

- CNN's Carey Bodenheimer

Filed under: Healthcare • John Edwards
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Jacque Bauer, Los Angeles, CA

    Yeah, Johnny Trial Lawyer is plenty upset that he can't go after that one in court right now... (Until he gets bounced out of the Primary, that is). Pathetic.

    December 22, 2007 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. s. s., reno, nv

    how about some more details. which company, why, etc. how are the insurance co going to be held accountable without info

    December 22, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  3. Daniel, NY

    Wow some major health care reform is needed NOW.

    December 22, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |


    December 22, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. Earl, Ohio

    It's about time one of the candidates brought this up. What happened to this poor girl is completely and utterly disgusting. We live in the richest country in the world, and we let people die like they are nothing more than cattle, because "it's too expensive", despite the insurance premiums being paid and the doctors all saying to approve it!

    Give 'em hell, John! There is blood on the hands of these SoBs!

    December 22, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  6. L. Smith in Atlanta, Georgia

    Thank goodness one of the candidates is speaking up about this tragedy!

    ...I want a president who acknowledges the cruel reality of our CORPORATE healthcare system: Corporations decide who lives and who dies!

    Insurance premiums have gone up because of CORPORATE GREED,*NOT* because insurance costs for doctors have gone up. (That's the cover story!) It's just like in the film "Sicko."

    My heart goes out to the Sarkisyan family. This could have happened to anyone's child This family *had* health insurance, and they did all of the right things.

    And, just imagine if you were one of the 45 million uninsured Americans. Hmmmm...

    John Edwards has my vote!

    December 22, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  7. Tyler D., Hartford CT

    And yet–his plan (followed by B.O. and Clinton) insists on EXPANDING insurance companies!

    Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul, but vote NOTHING in between! It's not exploitative if they talked about it–but for Edwards, it's wrong.

    December 22, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. Luisito, Des Moines

    My God !! When is this stupidity going to stop? We cannot relinquish to the benefits manager at CIGNA (or any other insurance company) the life or death decision involved in a medical procedure for a patient on the verge of death. This should be left for the hospital/doctor to decide. The people at CIGNA denied a liver transplant procedure to Nathalie because the doctors gave it a 65% chance of survival? WHO GIVES A **** IF THERE WAS ONLY A 5% SURVIVAL CHANCE!!?? Mr. Edwards and all the other presidential candidates - DO SOMETHING TO STOP THIS STUPID MADNESS AND LET THE DOCTORS DO THEIR JOBS!!!!!

    December 22, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  9. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Children should not be dying in this country because available medical care could not be delivered to the sick. Our medical system is broken if children are dying from lack of care.

    December 22, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |

    Keith's Rules of Political Sleaze:

    1) Deny, Deny, Deny...

    2) Pander to the lowest possible base....

    3) Exploit the pain and suffering of the unfortunate...

    4) Enhance the pain and suffering of the fortunate...

    5) Get a haircut, dress appropriately...

    December 22, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  11. Phil, North Carolina

    Give 'em hell John Edwards. It's about time we had a candidate who isn't beholden to the big insurance companies and other big groups like pharma and oil.

    Edwards will make a difference in this country so there will be no more 17 year old Nataline's who die at the decision of an insurance company.

    December 22, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. J, CA

    Shame on you Edwards, for using such a sensitive issue for your political gain. This is very typical of your opportunistic trail lawyer approach. After exploiting such cases to earn millions of dollars over the years, now you are trying to use this innocent girl’s death for your advantage. If you honestly care about her, why don’t you volunteer to take the case?

    December 22, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  13. Gert, Rehoboth, DE

    Complcit is this is an insurance company worried about profits and a hospital which puts deposits before care ahead of performing life saving procedures. We need a wholesale revision of the medical care system – which places the goals of the accountants secondary to the needs of the patient.

    December 22, 2007 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  14. Matt, Canoga Park CA

    Once a scummy sleazy ambulance chaser always a scummy sleazy ambulance chaser.

    Make note of this democrats and all Americans for that matter. This guy is a dirtbag piece of crap of the higest order and does not care one bit about the families suffering, nor tact, integrity or being remotely presidential.

    You are scum John Edwards and given the chance I would proudly spit in your eye.

    December 22, 2007 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  15. godispretend

    Cameron's Rules of "Not Solving the Problem"

    1) Avoid addressing actual issue
    2) Make snide remarks about politicians
    3) Sit back and blog about how proud of yourself you are

    I know the words "Michael Moore" induce nausea in many people, but you really should check out Sicko. I watched it and was extremely disappointed that our country (starting with Nixon) had given away the ability to receive quality and informed healthcare to corporate "America".

    December 22, 2007 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  16. Steve, Lyons, CO

    This isn't a joke?

    Are the insurance company officers being held for murder?

    December 23, 2007 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  17. Tony T Coldwater Michigan

    Lets see if I can get this right...The RIGHT has a fit when Democrats show why we need to have health care reform. The RIGHTs plan is really simple they don't have one. They only care about you before your born and not after!!!! Pro-life right wingers have a real short attention span. What happened to taking care of the less fortunate in society (BIBLE) which happens to be a lot of us these days. I bet the rich get the liver they need!!!!

    December 23, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  18. Allen Friedman--- Henderson, Nevada

    If this story is not upsetting to you then you must be a Republican and accept the fact that the insurance companies are playing doctor.The Republican party believes that the all mighty dollar is more important then a human life,and this proves it! Keep Republicans in power and die if you are poor.

    December 23, 2007 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  19. Kate, Aurora CO

    You cannot put all the blame on CIGNA. If the hospitals and nurses were so upset about the denial, why did they not simply proceed with the procedure and then appeal with the insurance after saving the girls life? What would they have done if there was no insurance involved? I have seen so many stories here on CNN about American doctors and hospitals giving free services to children from other countries but when it comes to American children its up to the insurance company? As much as we despise insurance companies think about if there weren't any. Do you think American doctors would be providing these expensive services at a discount or free for the poor? As an attorney Edwards is aware of this and it is an atrocity he is using this as an appeal to emotions and not to facts.

    December 23, 2007 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  20. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    The circmstances surrounding this poor girls death are awful.

    And all of America grieves for this family's loss of their child.

    However, former Senator Edwards inclusion of Ms. Sarkisyan in his stump speech is mercenary, cold and calculated. Shame on former Senator Edwards for being so crass, just two days following her death.

    This man will do or say anything to get elected.


    December 23, 2007 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  21. I

    This is really low, even for Edwards. What a nasty thing to do, compounding a family's trajedy by immediately injecting it into his political agenda and milking it for all it's worth. This man doesn't deserve classification as a human being.

    December 23, 2007 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  22. Alice Newman

    According Jacque Bauer, " Johnny Trial Lawyer is plenty upset that he can't go after that one in court right now… "

    its perfectly ok for the insurance company to decide who lives and who dies ... depending on the cost ... be careful Jacque Bauer, this may be you or your family in the next year ....

    Looks like Jacque Bauer is one of the minority who believes big business has the right to sr..w the people – all in the name of profit... it's not John Edwards who is pathetic ... it's Jacque Bauer who is morally bankrupt.

    December 23, 2007 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  23. St. Louis, MO

    I have a somewhat contrasting view than the majority here.
    Currently our health care system is fairly liberal about approving treatments that are semi-proven (likely for fear of litigation). The system generally fails the uninsured more so than the insured.

    However, if one were to approve every semi-proven treatment – and let me clarify that liver transplant is proven, but liver transplant in a patient with cancer and in a medically induced vegetative state for 2 weeks is a bit more radical – then we as a nation have to be willing to pay for it.

    So I think we need to make a decision as a nation when to finally say 'no' – because there are not limitless resources. In this case, perhaps the right answer was 'yes' – keep going with care until the bitter end. But it can't be that way for every patient, everywhere.

    December 23, 2007 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  24. Raman, Plano

    In capitalist economy, an individual has to pay for each need and want.

    Life of an individual in this capitalist economy has a cost associated with it. This is no secret.

    The dark side of this whole episode is that health insurance companies do not pay for sick people. The health insurance industry is designed based upon the premise that it shares the cost of medical expenses for healthy individuals, and excludes sick individuals.

    Health insurance industry is a cold blooded system designed by individuals who have little respect for life and has strayed away from humanely principle to safe a life.

    The motive of health insurance industry is to make money, because its survival is based on how well it performs on the stock market rather than how individual patients view its services.

    The solution to "Universal Healthcare" is not to create another insurance provided and funded by state, but can be as follows:

    1. Disassociate healthcare providers from healthcare insurance providers – President Bush should have included this nexus in his "axis of evil". Because the number of people who die or get permanently disabled in US from lack of heathcare is far more than any war that US engages in.

    2. Increase competition in health care industry – Increase health care work force (Doctors/Nurses/Specialist) by providing incentives to youth to pursue medical education in universities/school.

    3. Increase competition in health care industry by importing skilled healthcare workforce (doctors/nurses/specialist) from abroad by creating a separate medical workforce VISA category.

    The arguement of medical community that foreign doctors are not qualified enogh to practice in US, is a fallacy, in light of the fact that about 30% of critical care patients are going abroad to get treatment (to places like Mexico, Canada, Asia, Europe, South America).

    The current USMLE system is insufficient/inadequate because not all qualified candidates from universities abroad can even afford to go through the admission process and is biased and reeks of discrimination.

    December 23, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    Edwards is a medical malpractice attorney. This isn't a morality issue to him; it's about money. Who can I sue next? Can you imagine the future of law in this country if a former medical malpractice attorney became president?

    December 23, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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