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To: Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Tell Philadelphia Insurance: It's wrong to deny claims for life-saving addiction service providers

Launch a full inquiry into the immoral decision of Philadelphia Insurance to deny the insurance claims of Victory Programs and Bay Cove Human Services. Use the full power of your office to protect the people of Massachusetts during this officially declared opiate overdose state of emergency.

Why is this important?

When the only bridge to Boston’s Long Island was abruptly closed due to critical structural failures, hundreds of people who were in the middle of life-saving addiction recovery programs had to be evacuated in a matter of hours. They could not even bring their clothes or belongings along with them. It was an emergency, it was a disaster. As people of faith we did what we could. We opened the doors of our houses of worship to provide the displaced warm places to stay, we treated them with the dignity that they deserve as children of God.

What was most desperately needed, however, was something that requires specialized training and facilities we cannot possibly provide. Victory Programs and Bay Cove Human Services—the two largest addiction recovery service providers on the island—needed to relocate their services off of the now inaccessible island.

Luckily, they had insurance for just such a circumstance. Both had policies that covered the costs associated with an interruption of their operations as a result of an emergency. But when they filed claims to help relocate these life saving services, Philadelphia insurance denied their claims.

The reason? Routine maintenance was not covered by their policy.

An emergency bridge closure and the subsequent demolition of the bridge are not “routine maintenance”. Even more troubling is what came next. Philadelphia insurance canceled their policies entirely, forcing these life saving service providers to find new insurance policies at triple the cost.

As people of faith, this cold-hearted response to a public health disaster would shock the conscience at any time. But the Long Island Bridge disaster is actually two disasters rolled into one. It was a major interruption of addiction recovery services that happened at the worst possible time: during an ongoing officially declared state of emergency because of opiate deaths.

This officially declared state of emergency, though unprecedented, is no surprise. It is playing out every day in the headlines and on our sidewalks, in open air drug markets and in our medicine cabinets, in the inner city and in small towns. People are dying from opiate overdoses in previously unthinkable numbers. In December alone in Massachusetts, one hundred fourteen people died from opiate overdoses. Tragically, hundreds more have died in the months since.

Like the fire department after an earthquake, Victory and Bay Cove are critical parts of public safety infrastructure. They are saving lives during an emergency and so the Commonwealth must extend them every protection and accommodation possible as long as this state of emergency continues. As people of faith, we believe in a God of second and third and fourth chances, a God who is always faithful and doesn’t abandon people in need. That is why we strongly support Victory and Bay Cove. Not only because they are critical to the public good but because Victory and Bay Cove are doing the work of God, saving lives one person at a time. We know, as they know, that children of God are always more than their addictions and that as long as there is life there is hope.

You have the authority, Mr. Secretary, to oversee the operations of all insurance companies. Insurance companies exist as a way to pool risk. They exist so that when disasters occur, affected people and businesses can recover. The Long Island Bridge disaster is exactly the reason insurance companies exist, so that life saving services can continue even in the face of extraordinary events. For Philadelphia to put profits before people's lives during a state of emergency is irresponsible and morally outrageous.

We believe in the new administration and we believe you can be a strong and tireless public servant who will stand up for the people of Massachusetts during this time of emergency. We call on you, Secretary Ash, to open an inquiry into this decision by Philadelphia Insurance. We implore you, meet with representatives of Religious Leaders for Long Island Refugees, we will support your efforts with the full weight of our moral voice.

How it will be delivered

We will deliver them in person to the State House, with press coverage from the Boston Globe.

Massachusetts, United States

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2015-04-27 22:18:51 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2015-04-27 19:14:21 -0400

500 signatures reached

2015-04-27 13:51:01 -0400

100 signatures reached

2015-04-27 13:09:26 -0400

50 signatures reached

2015-04-25 06:00:11 -0400

25 signatures reached

2015-04-24 19:41:23 -0400

10 signatures reached