In football, it's called piling on. In life, it's called adding insult to injury.

In the case of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Maryland and its relationship with Judy Marsh of Pasadena, let's call it a callous disregard for a human life.

The insurance company has told Marsh, once again, that it will not pay for the cancer treatment she got at Duke University Medical Center.

The first time around, the Blues insisted that Marsh's request for a bone marrow transplant -- her only chance for survival, her doctors said -- was cooked up by Dr. Quack. It refused to spend good money on something it considered to be just this side of black magic.

Judy Marsh's North County neighbors didn't agree. They dug into their pockets, wrote checks and filled store canisters until they raised $130,000, which allowed the treatment to begin.

Meanwhile, in two cases involving other cancer patients, a federal judge told the Blues to pay up. He noted that the Blues' own experts considered the transplants an accepted medical practice and called the insurer's foot-dragging "arbitrary and capricious."

I'd add stupid and petty for good measure, but that's not legal talk.

Marsh, 50, figured the court ruling meant her money was on the way.


It appears the arbitrary Blues have gotten more arbitrary. The decision-makers now say they won't pay her bills because her policy covers federal employees, not non-government ones like the other two cases.

I guess federal workers and their dependents get a different kind of cancer.

The bad news was compounded by a piece of devastating news: Marsh'stransplant didn't take; the tumors have returned.

So, too, have her medical bills, each stamped by the Blues with a big, fat "Refused."

Judy Marsh owes Duke another $130,000.

Marsh has filed suit to force her insurer to do for her what it is doing for others. It's ahassle she doesn't need. It's energy she shouldn't have to waste. It's an expense she can't afford.

And the cruelty of it all is Marshmay not live long enough to see it through.

Her attorney says theBlues are "stalling."

Add vindictive and inhuman to the charges.

Surely someone at the Blues with a title and power must realize that the company is making Judy Marsh suffer over a matter of semantics. It's hard to believe that there isn't one caring individual who canmake things right.

I'm sure the folks in charge would insist thatthey're only looking out for the best interests of all their subscribers, that paying for voodoo cures depletes the pot. Some might even argue that Judy Marsh's treatment was a waste of money.

Judy Marsh, who endured the isolation, pain and nausea of the transplant, didn't think so. "I'm so glad I was able to do it. I know now I've done everything I can. If I didn't do it, I would be sitting here and saying, 'If only I had that treatment, then maybe I would be all right.' "

We pay for dialysis to keep people alive. We prolong the lives of Alzheimer's patients. We even transplant hearts -- take note Blues, there's hope for you yet. Why is Judy Marsh any different?

In football, the team piling on is assessed a 15-yard penalty.

We must have something in real life that'll accomplish the same thing. It's timeto sting the Blues.

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