Health Alert | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Tallahassee Family Successfully Pushes Cigna to Change Mental Disability Terminology


A family in Tallahassee is working to prove their daughter who was born with special needs, isn't defined by her disability.

Ten month old Kennedi Beahn is all smiles and full of energy Friday afternoon while sitting with her parents at Progressive Pediatric in Tallahassee.

"She's amazing. She amazes us every day," her mom Jennipher Beahn says.

Kennedi was born with Down Syndrome and a congenital heart defect. She had open heart surgery at just 76 days old.

"We had never heard the "r" word spoken from any of our family, friends or medical professionals," Kraig Beahn, Kennedi's father says.

That was until a few weeks ago when the Beahn's received a letter from their healthcare provider, Cigna.

"It has specific language right here," Kraig shows Eyewitness News Reporter, Natalie Rubino," specifically referring to 'Mental Retardation,'" he says.

Shocked by the use of the word Kraig says he wrote and emailed Cigna.

"I didn't like the word because I didn't want people to label Kennedi on her diagnosis cause she is so much more than Down Syndrome," Jennipher said.

Cigna responded within two days and agreed that "Mental Retardation" is offensive and promised to change the terminology to "Intellectual Disability," recommended by the Beahns.

The healthcare company told the parents that changing the terminology on all past, present and future documents may take up to year.

The Beahns say they hope a major healthcare insurer's commitment to change will encourage other companies to do the same.


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