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Letters-to-the-Editor & Commentary

Tell Aetna to Tell Sonya, “Sorry, Our Fault. Never Again.”

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September 21, 2023

In 1950, when she was a toddler, Sonya Abelaf Munroe’s immigrant parents

moved to Sleepy Hollow.  She and her husband raised their three children here,

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across the street from their extended family — her parents, sister, and brother.

    In May this year, Aetna Medicare refused to cover surgery to remove a cyst

growing in Sonya’s spine.  Since March, it was squeezing the sciatic nerve to her

left leg, causing severe debilitating pain.

    Her surgeon scheduled its removal for May 31st.  “No,” said Aetna on May 16th.

“We won’t cover it until she first has 6 weeks of physical therapy.”  The surgeon

called that “Idiotic!”  PT doesn’t remove a cyst.

    On June 24th, Aetna changed their mind and approved the operation for July

18th.  The surgeon removed the peanut-size cyst that day, and her pain stopped.

    She sued Aetna in White Plains federal court, representing herself without a

lawyer.  She wasn’t asking for money but that the court declare Aetna responsible

for her 7 weeks of unnecessary suffering (from the cancellation of May 31st to the

surgery on July 18th); and that the court order Aetna (1) to apologize to her and

(2) to submit a protocol of how they will stop abusing patients like this.

    In August a White Plains trial judge dismissed the case, saying she must first

“exhaust her administrative remedies” through the Aetna appeals process.  Sonya

has appealed it to the superior court in Manhattan.

Submitted by her husband,

Patrick Munroe

Sleepy Hollow

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