Earlier this week, it was reported that Upper Darby native, Greg Painter was suffering from kidney cancer. The family had been told of a drug that could possibly extend Greg’s life, and possibly a better quality of life. The drug, Cometriq, which had been made by the FDA in 2012 as a treatment for thyroid cancer, had only recently been considered to shrink tumors in other types of cancer including the cancer Greg was fighting, kidney. The problem was that Greg’s insurance company, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield denied coverage for the drug treatment. That wasn’t going to stop the Painter family from working to get the insurance company to change its decision. Rian Painter, Greg’s wife, created a petition drive through Change.com to ask for the insurance company to change their position on the procedure to allow the drug to be distributed to her husband. The week of phone calls, petitions and diligent work by Rian had finally paid off.
Yesterday, at approximately 4:00 P.M Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield called the Rian Painter, wife of Greg Painter, with the news that the insurance company has reversed their decision that can possibly save the life of this 41 year old father, brother, son and husband. Crying, Rian called those close to her to report the news and on her petition to the insurance company on Change.org. Rian remarked, “The past few days we have been on an emotional rollercoaster. One day we were lower than low including today, but then, the phone call that has changed everything. This medication will give us more time with Greg which is the greatest gift. Thank you everyone for their help, for their time and their prayers. Thank you Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.” When news came that the insurance company were denied the coverage for the medication, calls for help were made to the FDA, Senator Toomey and Pennsylvania State Representative James Santora. Advice was given by Pennsylvania District Judge Christopher Mattox of Upper Darby as to how to ask the Pennsylvania Insurance Commission for assistance. The work and advice of both Toomey, Santora and Mattox was invaluable. The family thanks the hard work of Toomey and Santora which open lines of communication between the insurance company, the physicians, and the family. It was an eventful week for the Painter family, but one that has given the family the greatest gift, time to love their husband, father, brother and son.
The physicians that have been handling her husband at Jennersville Regional Hospital now have the ability to start applying the drug to stop Greg’s cancer from spreading and to slow down or even finish any more harm to the kidneys. Talking to Rian, you feel her sense of joy and relief. She has been by Greg’s side since they were in high school. She has been caring for Greg for the past 5 years when the first sign of cancer appeared. This is a couple who have seen good times and bad, through sickness and in health they continued on. As Rian stated, “we just want more time.” With the approval of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield they will get just that.