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Meagan Bigger

Meagan was a happy, healthy mom who worked hard to take care of her family. She was working nearly fulltime at a local deli, homeschooling her three children, and caring for her husband, a disabled veteran.

But in March 2015, Meagan fell mysteriously ill. She was not acting like herself and could tell that something was wrong. The last memory she has is calling 911. Her symptoms were originally dismissed by doctors as a psychiatric illness, despite not having any history of psychiatric issues. However her condition rapidly deteriorated and she fell into a coma. The doctors realized their initial diagnosis was off and something more serious must wrong with Meagan.

While in a coma, Meagan was transferred between 3 different hospitals in order to discover the cause. Although most of her symptoms were neurological, a full body scan discovered a rare ovarian tumor. Doctors eventually discovered that the rare tumor was causing Meagan’s immune system to attack her brain. The following day doctors were able to remove the tumor and Meagan quickly regained consciousness. Meagan needed to remain in the hospital for a few weeks to undergo rehabilitation after being in the coma, but the family’s struggles didn’t end there.

TennCare should have covered Meagan’s 7-week hospitalization, but instead the Biggers were left with nearly $1 million in medical debt. Instead of being able to focus on her recovery and her family, Meagan faced months of hassle fighting with the state for medical coverage. She was not properly screened for TennCare, and when her husband attempted to get her coverage he was turned away. During his multiple attempts, he was told that Meagan herself needed to get the coverage, even though she was lying in a hospital bed in a coma.

After she was discharged, Meagan began the long process to get TennCare coverage dated back to her hospital admission. Though she knew the state had not considered all the facts in its decision, TennCare denied her request to present her case to them four times.

Searching for help online, Meagan discovered the Tennessee Justice Center. Attorneys at the Tennessee Justice Center helped her file for review in court and challenge the rule that allowed TennCare to deny her a fair hearing. TJC is still working with Meagan to resolve this case, but we are hopeful that she will get the coverage she needs. Meagan’s case could set the precedent for other cases like hers. If she succeeds, Meagan will help thousands of other families across Tennessee that are also denied fair hearings from TennCare.

With TJC’s assistance, Meagan can now focus on her health and her family. The whole family loves spending time together, especially when they get to be outside with their multiple dogs. When asked what advice she would give to other families facing these struggles, Meagan says, “Never stop fighting.”

For her passion, dedication to her family, and her fighting spirit, the Tennessee Justice Center is delighted to honor Meagan Bigger as a 2016 Mother of the Year.

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