Senior Director at Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts recognized as advocate for lymphatic surgery coverage
NEW YORK, NY – November 2021 – Desiree Otenti, Senior Director of Medical Policy and Program Implementation at Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts (BCBS-MA), will be honored with the 2021 LE&RN Impact Award at the Boston Lymphatic Symposium in November. Ms. Otenti has been at the forefront in working to ensure that lymphatic surgery is covered by insurance in Massachusetts. Her actions have become a model for action at leading medical institutions nationwide.
Across the United States, those with lymphedema often hear that most lymphatic surgeries aren't covered by Medicare and private insurers, rendering these surgeries unaffordable for the majority of patients who could benefit. This lack of insurance coverage also has a cascading effect on medical institutions that see little reason to train surgeons in procedures the general public can't afford to access.
“There is likely no issue that leads to more suffering for those with lymphedema and other lymphatic diseases than the lack of insurance coverage. Ms. Otenti and BCBS-MA are having a nationwide impact on this issue for lymphatic surgeries,” said William Repicci, President and CEO of the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN). “With Ms. Otenti leading the charge, BCBS in Massachusetts has changed a very unfortunate situation in insurance coverage for lymphatic diseases. We are pleased to be able to recognize Ms. Otenti’s efforts with the LE&RN 2021 Impact Award.”
"I became convinced of the need for change in insurance coverage for lymphatic surgeries after meeting with Dr. Dhruv Singhal of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston,” said Ms. Otenti, Senior Director of Medical Policy and Program Implementation at BCBS-MA and 2021 LE&RN Impact Award recipient. “Dr. Singhal explained the tremendous positive impact that lymphatic surgeries could have on patient health, and told us that BIDMC is a LE&RN Center of Excellence in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Lymphatic Diseases. The fact that BIDMC was accredited in this way played a large role in the decision-making process because the policies undertaken by BCBS-MA also apply to our members in other states and the accreditation allows us gauge the quality and consistency of care nationwide.”
The 2021 LE&RN Impact Award will be presented to Ms. Otenti at the November Boston Lymphatic Symposium taking place November 5-6. Previous LE&RN Impact Award recipients include Senator Chuck Schumer for his support of research, Academy Award winner Kathy Bates for her relentless advocacy as LE&RN’s National Spokesperson, and talk show host Wendy Williams who has brought awareness to lymphedema through her television program.
Founded in 1998, the Lymphatic Education & Research Network is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to fight lymphatic disease and lymphedema through education, research and advocacy. LE&RN provides valuable educational resources for the millions of people who suffer from lymphedema and lymphatic disease. LE&RN fosters and supports research that can deepen the medical community's understanding of the lymphatic system. For more information about lymphatic diseases or the Lymphatic Education & Research Network, please visit www.LymphaticNetwork.org or call (516) 625-9675.