Eau Claire cancer patient fights to end “White Bagging” in Wisconsin

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – An Eau Claire woman battling breast cancer has fought for another cause, ending “White Bagging” in Wisconsin.

Koreen Holmes was diagnosed with the disease in January when she was 35 weeks pregnant. She began treatment at Prevea Cancer Center at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital shortly after giving birth.

“They have become family and I would say the cancer team at Prevea, they care deeply about their patients,” said Koreen Holmes.

In July, she learned from her insurance company that the drugs she was receiving had to come from a specialty pharmacy she owns.

This is called “white bagging”. This is when insurance companies dictate that drugs come from a specific pharmacy instead of the hospital.

Prevea Cancer Center director of oncology Angela Quick said the practice affects people with several chronic conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and more.

This means that HSHS Sacred Heart could not control the chain of custody of drugs by delivering them through its own pharmacy.

The hospital said that since it cannot control how the drugs arrive, they will not administer “white bag” drugs because it is too dangerous.

This left the choice to Koreen Holmes. Should be able to pay for treatment out of pocket or go elsewhere.

“These people have become my family,” she said. “And to know that I should get up and leave them and try to find someone else in the middle of my diagnosis, they should relearn everything that I have and what I’m going through, it’s scary.”

Koreen Holmes’ husband Nathan said they were prepared to go bankrupt to keep her in Prevea.

“The minute you find out that your care is no longer covered, you look at what it could cost you and it will literally break you, like mentally, emotionally, all of it,” Nathan Holmes said. “It’s like going to a place where, ‘Alright, shit,’ for lack of better words, ‘We’re going to do what we have to do.’ And that’s what I felt.

Koreen Holmes finally got a one-time 90-day extension from his insurance company to cover his “white bag” treatments at Prevea. She expects to complete the treatment before the extension expires.

His fight is not over. To fight against “white bagging”, it lent its name to the “Korean Law”. The Wisconsin Legislature’s bill would prohibit this practice.

“I hope this helps other people and I pray that this gets passed because I would hate to see this continue,” said Koreen Holmes. “And it comes down to life or death. It’s not just an occasional thing.

She said she is currently cancer free. His current treatments hope to prevent recurrence.

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