More than a year after the Dec. 2, 2015, terror attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 people dead, survivors of the horrifying ordeal continue to struggle physically and mentally.
The problems started when San Bernardino County placed the terror victims into California’s Workers’ Compensation System. Many survivors then had their claims repeatedly modified – or fully denied. Those denials prompted the state to conduct an investigation into how the cases were handled. The findings, published this month, concluded that in many cases, the denial of care was the fault of the victims’ personal physicians, stating: “The fact that several requests were denied and then authorized upon further review suggests that better communication by providers to the county’s claims administrators and better documentation at the time requests were first submitted might have reduced the number of UR denials and IMR (independent medical review) requests.”
“I have to fight for treatments all doctors and surgeons say I need. Everyone was saying I need this, and yet my claim was sent to utilization review and being denied,” Valerie Weber told Fox News during her continued recovery at the end of last year. She was shot twice by Tashfeen Malik, who, along with her husband Syed Rizwan Farook, carried out the deadly assault.
One bullet paralyzed Weber’s left arm; the other shattered her pelvis. Weber is back in the I.C.U this weekend after she experienced complications from her most recent surgery.
Gary Kaplan, Weber’s attorney, says that while blame is being tossed around, the real accountability lies in a system not designed to handle wounds typically sustained on the front lines.
“If you were in any other setting using your private insurance, the vast majority of the things that you require to get better would be authorized and paid for by insurance, and it just isn’t in the workers’ compensation system.” Kaplan says.
The San Bernardino County Board Chairman, Robert A. Lovingood, released a statement earlier this month. “This has been unchartered territory for the county, for the doctors, and most certainly for the survivors. But the state’s investigation shows the county has worked hard and effectively to ensure safe, and complete care for the employees injured during this horrific attack. This has been the county’s priority since that fateful day,” Lovingood says.
Fox News has reached out numerous times over the past few months to the County’s Board of Supervisors for an on-camera interview, but all five board members declined to comment or appear. That silence has also been delivered to the survivors, who continue to seek help in their ongoing recovery process, some even petitioning President Trump for help.
Matt Sawicki is a Fox News Channel Associate Producer based in Los Angeles.
Follow him on Twitter: @matthewdsawicki