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John Matthews Faces Fight With Insurance Company

The director of rehabilitation at Saint Mary's hospital said that the Aetna insurance company is refusing to pay to send a critically injured skydiver to the proper rehabilitation facility. Last November, professional skydiver John Matthews got caught in a gust of wind and fell, headfirst, to the ground at Pahokee.

Jogn Matthews Since then his family and doctor have been battling his insurance company -- first to pay for his care at Saint Mary's Hospital, and then to move him to the rehabilitation facility that they say may save his life.

Doctors said that Matthews has made a remarkable recovery because the 29-year-old suffered catastrophic brain injuries and he was in a coma for weeks.

Just 87 days after Matthews plummeted 50 feet to the ground in a skydiving accident, crushing his head and body, he was able to communicate and to move.

However, an intensive coma stimulation worked, and Matthews' elated doctor prescribed the next level of care, which was a neurological facility in Tampa that specializes in these types of cases.

Aetna insurance, however, denied Dr. Craig Lichtblau's request to transfer Matthews to the Florida Institute for Neurological Rehabilitation. So Lichtblau decided to fight and appealed to Aetna's own doctors. But Aetna denied the transfer again, saying that Matthew's policy would pay only for facilities in its own provider network.

Lichtblau said that those facilities are basically nursing homes and could spell doom for Matthew's recovery.

Matthew's mother, in Tampa, said that fighting with Aetna has been horrible.

"Why should we have to do this?" Mary Lou Matthews said. "I mean, he does have an insurance policy, he goes have a great chance of recovery and why should they stand in our way, and keep him from living, from being a person again?"

Lichtblau was so determined that Matthews have a chance, he convinced the state's brain and spinal cord injury program to foot the bill for the man's transfer this week to the recommended facility.

After inquires by WBPF-TV and a conference call from Senator Trent Lott's office and the F.I.N.E.R. Institute, Aetna has informally agreed to pay for Matthews rehabilitation in Tampa.


Send your donations to:

THE JOHN MATTHEWS RECOVERY FUND C/o johnandjanine.com - Cyberjester.com 6305 Gall Boulevard Zephyrhills FL 33541

For updates on John's condition and to make easy PayPal donations check out The Slammer




By on 2001-03-25 | Last Modified on 2004-05-18

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