Insurance company reverses decision on Alleghany County eight-month-old’s surgery for ear implants

Alleghany Highlands News

CLIFTON FORGE, Va. (WFXR) — An eight-month-old boy in Alleghany County will now get the life-changing surgery he needs, free of charge.

“I feel like a million pounds has been lifted,” said Noelle Brantley.

It has been a Monday morning unlike any other for Brantley. For weeks, the Clifton Forge mom was in a state of constant fear, hoping to give her son Manning James cochlear implants.

Until everything changed with one phone call.

“Waking up at 8:30 this morning to his case manager calling was amazing.” says Brantley.

In March, Manning was born profoundly deaf in both ears. He’s only able to hear loud noises.

After failing multiple hearing tests just weeks after his birth, Brantley decided to prepare him for cochlear implant surgery. However, weeks before the surgery, her insurance company, Aetna, declined to cover any costs associated.

Their decision was soon reversed.

“We immediately called my grandmother, because she and I were praying all night last night, and then we Facetimed our parents and just let everyone know,” Brantley said.

She believes it’s all in appreciation to Manning’s surgeon, Dr. Eric Oliver at Carilion Clinic, for filing an appeal against the insurance company’s decision.

“He knows the criteria, and he’s not going to advocate for someone who is not a good candidate for the surgery,” said Brantley.

Dr. Oliver was unavailable for a comment.

Manning’s audiologist, Dr. Kristi Miller at Carilion Clinic, also contributed to the appeal. She managed to send reports of Manning’s failed hearing tests to the insurance company.

“Our patients are our top priority, and we work closely with them to offer quality care close to home. Generally, that can include things like helping families to navigate conversations with their insurance provider. We are grateful to be part of Manning’s journey and look forward to his upcoming procedure.”

Dr. Kristina S. Miller, Audiologist, Carilion Clinic

Community members were also supportive of Manning’s surgery. In almost two weeks, the family managed to raise over $5,000 through a GoFundMe fundraiser.

Brantley says she’s giving all the money back.

“Right now, times are tough because of COVID, so we just decided to give everyone their money back and thank them for the support,” Brantley said.

A truly magical holiday season, for Manning and his family.

“It is a Christmas miracle for sure,” said. Brantley.

Manning’s surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 30, at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.

WFXR News reached out to multiple Aetna representatives. Here is their official statement:

“We’re so glad that this issue has been resolved and Manning will receive much needed treatment to improve his hearing. On initial review in November, the clinical information we received was insufficient based on existing coverage guidelines. When additional information was submitted in December, we were able to approve the devices.”

Shannon Dillon, Senior External Communications Consultant, Aetna

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