Texas baby undergoing emergency brain surgery after insurer's ch - KMSP-TV

Texas baby undergoing emergency brain surgery after insurer's change of heart

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(FOX NEWS) Little Savannah Snodgrass -- a 7-month-old Texas girl with a life-threatening brain tumor -- is undergoing delicate surgery Friday morning by the doctors who know her best, after her health insurance company reversed a decision that had denied the operation be performed at the acclaimed Texas Children's Hospital.

Following a FoxNews.com report, the insurance company Superior HealthPlan reversed its decision not to pay the Houston hospital for the emergency surgery, claiming the doctors there were out-of-network. Savannah's parents fought back, saying the same doctors had been treating the little girl for months, monitoring the tumor and preparing to remove it.

Late Thursday, Superior HealthPlan officials told the family it would pay for the operation, which could cost as much as $1 million, according to Tessa Snodgrass, an Army veteran and mother of four.

"We got a call from the neurosurgeon saying they got approval," Tessa Snodgrass, 38, told FoxNews.com early Friday, as Savannah was being prepped for the six-hour operation. "They had a cancellation today so it worked out.

"I am ecstatic," she added. "We're so thankful."

Superior HealthPlan confirmed to FoxNews.com Friday that the insurance company will cover Savannah's surgery at Texas Children's "for continuity reasons."

"Our number one priority has been to deliver the best health outcome for this child, as it is for all of our members," the company said in a statement. "Superior is happy to have identified a solution that ensures that this child receives continued care from the provider established prior to their enrollment with Superior. We will continue to assist this family in making sure they receive the care they need.

"While we have complete confidence that our in-network providers have the expertise and resources to give all of our members the individual care they need, we approach every member’s care individually. The importance of maintaining continuity of care combined with the complex and timely concerns of the family were critical to this decision," the statement said.

Savannah was just four months old in March, when she began having seizures. Her pediatrician ordered she be admitted to a hospital in Temple, Texas, after she had 15 seizures in a 24-hour period, her mother said. From there, she was sent to the acclaimed Texas Children's Hospital, but doctors there deemed her too young and fragile for brain surgery, and planned to monitor her closely only to find the tumor growing.

This week, the team of specialists there ordered emergency surgery to be performed on Tuesday, but the operation was scuttled when Superior HealthPlan, a Texas-based HMO, wrote a letter to the Snodgrass family denying coverage at the hospital.

Snodgrass claims Superior HealthPlan had been covering Savannah's care all along -- including pre-approval for another MRI to be conducted on Monday. But the company initially refused to pay for Savannah's brain surgery, claiming in a June 27 letter that Texas Children's Hospital is an out-of-network provider and referring her instead to a surgical facility in Austin, about an hour south of Georgetown.

Snodgrass believes her daughter's best chance lies with the doctors at Texas Children's, who have been tending to her for months and have a stellar reputation in the highly-specialized field. Dr. Daniel Curry, a pediatric neurosurgeon at the hospital, will perform the operation.

Superior HealthPlan officials told FoxNews.com earlier this week they were working to ensure Savannah got the treatment she needs with in-network doctors who were not affiliated with Texas Children's Hospital.

On Thursday, however, the company reversed its decision and approved the operation at Texas Children's. Tessa Snodgrass praised FoxNews.com for bringing the issue to light.

"The story you wrote touched them," she said. "It got them to do the right thing."

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