A Louisiana medical clinic is facing closure after the owner says insurance companies are refusing to reimburse her for patient care.
Dr. Tiffany Najberg, known to many online as simply Dr. Tiffany, owns UrgentEMS in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Najberg, a transgender woman who has legally changed her name, says insurance companies Cigna, Humana and CVS-owned Aetna are refusing to pay out claims unless they are filed under the doctor’s previous name.
Najberg opened UrgentEMS on the ninth floor of the American Tower in Shreveport in June 2021.
The clinic officially relocated in late December of that same year after, during the summer, the office building lost air conditioning for an extended period of time causing some of the medical supplies to melt and leaving Najberg unable to bring patients in due to the extreme temperatures.
The sudden relocation put the clinic in a financial bind and on September 12, 2021, Najberg created a GoFundMe page where different donation amounts would give donators things like shoutout videos on Najberg’s popular TikTok page, free zoom call consultations, a plaque and a room in the clinic named after you and more.
Long before opening the clinic, Najberg came out as transgender and went through the process of legally changing her first name to Tiffany. This change was accepted by:
- Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
- Louisiana Department of Motor Vehicles
- United States Social Security Administration
- Drug Enforcement Agency
- Louisiana State Board of Pharmacy
- American Board of Emergency Medicine
- American College of Emergency Physicians
- Her residency program LSU New Orleans
- Her medical school Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- National Plan & Provider Enumeration System (NPPES)
- Medicare Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS)
- National Provider Identifier (NPI)
- Blue Cross
- United Healthcare
Najberg says it was in early 2021 that the name change was legal. “I immediately changed all of my professional qualifications by the end of June 2021 and that included not just things like my social security and driver’s license, but my medical license, my DEA number, my Louisiana State Board of Pharmacy number, databases that insurance companies draw from. Some of the insurance companies decided that they weren’t going to honor my name change and they were just going to use my dead name. Since I can’t legally practice any medicine or medical care underneath my dead name as that would be fraud and impersonating and a felony. They’re using that as an excuse to just not pay because according to them I’m not a person.”
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Since her name change and relocation, Dr. Najberg’s clinic has lost an estimated $150,000 in payments from these insurance companies and UrgentEMS is facing possible closure in the next month or possibly sooner.
“A name change in the medical field is a common thing,” Najberg continued. “Cis women get married all the time and some of them are even doctors and insurance companies don’t get away with saying ‘we’re not going to pay for a year and a half’ because you got married, right? What they’re doing in my case is clearly discriminatory…”
On Saturday, Jan. 7 Najberg created a petition on the Change.org website to call out these insurance companies and at the time of publication, it has received over 2,700 signatures.
In addition to the petition, Najberg has filed a complaint to the Louisiana State insurance commissioner’s office and acquired a forensic billing expert and a lawyer.
The Times reached out to Cigna, Humana and Aetna for comment. As of publication, Cigna and Aetna have said they are working on a statement, though one has not yet been provided. Humana did not respond to our request.
Meredith G. White is the arts and culture reporter for the Shreveport Times. You can find her on Facebook as Meredith G. White, on Instagram and Twitter as @meredithgwhite, and email her at [email protected].