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Judge calls United "barbaric" for not covering cancer therapy

United Healthcare's refusal to cover an advanced cancer treatment was "immoral and barbaric," a federal judge said yesterday as he recused himself from a lawsuit over that decision. The class-action suit accuses United of wrongfully denying coverage for proton-beam radiation to treat prostate cancer.

Between the lines: Judges set their personal beliefs aside all the time. But, in a reminder of just how personal health care can be, Judge Robert Scola said he simply couldn't do that. He said he had considered proton-beam therapy himself, and that a friend paid $150,000 for the procedure because United wouldn't cover it. "To deny a patient this treatment, if it is available, is immoral and barbaric," he wrote in an unusual parting shot.