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'An Arm and a Leg': They Turned Grief Into Action

Analysis  |  By Kaiser Health News  
   September 21, 2021

This episode focuses on how New York enacted a charity care law, one of the precursors to the federal provision on charity care in the ACA.

This podcast was released on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 by Kaiser Health News.

By Dan Weissmann  

Can't see the audio player? Click here to listen.

In 2004, 24-year-old Manny Lanza urgently needed surgery for a life-threatening brain condition. But he didn't have insurance, so his hospital refused to schedule the treatment — until it was too late. Manny died waiting. 

In the months that followed, Manny's parents, Reynaldo Prieto and Levia Lanza, fought to make their son's story known — and to make sure it didn't happen again. They came up empty … until a reporter from the New York Post took their call. Then, things changed fast.

What Manny's parents didn't know: The fight had already begun years before Manny's illness. Folks like Elizabeth Benjamin, then a Legal Aid attorney, and Dr. Rosemarie Guercia, a retired Long Island, New York, physician, had spent those years campaigning for laws that would require hospitals to extend financial aid to uninsured patients. And with Manny's story in the news, it was finally their time.

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

In 2004, 24-year-old Manny Lanza urgently needed surgery for a life-threatening brain condition.

But he didn't have insurance, so his hospital refused to schedule the treatment — until it was too late. Manny died waiting. 

In the months that followed, Manny's parents, Reynaldo Prieto and Levia Lanza, fought to make their son's story known — and to make sure it didn't happen again.

They came up empty … until a reporter from the New York Post took their call. Then, things changed fast.


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