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Consumer Watchdog Hall of Famer Hilda Sarkisyan lost her 17-year-old daughter Nataline after their insurance company CIGNA refused to pay for a potentially life-saving transplant.

CIGNA was able to deny the transplant with impunity because a federal law bars the Sarkisyans, or anyone who gets their insurance from a private employer, from holding the insurance company responsible in court.

The Sarkisyans vowed that no other family should have to suffer the abuses they did at the hands of their insurance company. To honor their daughter’s memory they host a fashion show every year to commemorate her birthday and honor Nataline’s dream to become a fashion designer. And they travel the country telling Nataline’s story and fighting to reform this unjust law.

Read today’s story about Nataline and the fashion show in the Contra Costa Times.

Hilda joined me in Washington DC last month, along with health insurance industry whistleblower and Deadly Spin author Wendell Potter, to tell Nataline’s story to Senate staff on Capitol Hill. Hilda didn’t feel well for most of the trip, but she stuck out the heat to reach as many Senate staffers as we could.


In our meetings, Hilda would apologize for the tears that inevitably come when she repeats the story of fighting CIGNA for her daughter’s transplant, only to get the approval too late to save her life. It is the courage of Hilda, and other parents and families like her, who are willing to relive that grief that will force members of Congress to face the real-life impact of unequal justice under ERISA.

This year, Nataline's Fashion Legacy will be held under the stars on the roof of the Mercedes Benz of Calabasas on Saturday, July 14. If you’re in the Los Angeles area this weekend, join the Sarkisyans and hundreds of their supporters at the fashion show to meet Nataline, and carry on her legacy helping other young people achieve their dreams. Tickets and more info at the Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation website.

Learn more about efforts to reform ERISA here.