Kentuckian Katie Prager is a step closer to getting a double lung transplant.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has received an enrollment application for, and issued a Kentucky Medicaid provider number to, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
This would appear to clear a major barrier for Prager, 24, of Flemingsburg, to be placed on a list to receive the transplant in Pennsylvania.
The agreement between the Kentucky Medicaid program and the Pittsburgh hospital is a limited one for a specific case, according to cabinet spokeswoman Jill Midkiff.
Prager has been a patient at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital while awaiting a needed double lung transplant elsewhere.
Because Prager, who has cystic fibrosis, has a special condition — called a Burkholderia cepacia infection — the number of surgery centers specializing in her condition is limited. There are two: Pittsburgh and Duke. She already has been through several weeks of tests at Pittsburgh.
Prager's insurance is a tag-team of Medicare — available to her at a young age because of her disability — and Medicaid. But she's a Kentuckian, and the Pittsburgh hospital is considered out of network; her in-network hospital, UK, does not perform lung transplants on people with B. cepacia.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center "is an outstanding facility, and the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services is working closely with them to ensure any remaining issues are quickly resolved," the cabinet statement, issued Monday afternoon, said. "Everyone involved has the best interests of the patient at heart, and are working collaboratively to overcome any further administrative hurdles."
Prager's need for a double lung transplant has been featured in various media reports in recent days, in part because of her unusual situation: Her husband, Dalton Prager, who like his wife has cystic fibrosis complicated by Burkholderia cepacia, has received a double lung transplant in Pittsburgh through his parents' insurance.
Because of their precarious conditions, the two have not seen each other since before Dalton's transplant.
Katie Prager had a medical procedure Monday to install a new medication-dispensing port and could not be reached for comment.
However, her mother, Debra Donovan, said that she had not yet heard about her daughter's case moving forward.
"I hope they get that straightened out," Donovan said Monday afternoon. "We've been waiting forever, it seems like."