The Circle Game

B. Jay Cooper
4 min readMay 21, 2024

With all that’s going on in the world — wars, partisanship, a liar as the key witness in a trial with a lying ex- and maybe future president — this is not the biggest issue.

But it’s on the list of Top Five reasons to go, “WTF.”

About a month ago, as the weather warmed, I started playing golf again. I strained a muscle in my lower back (from my powerful swing being a little too powerful for so early in the season) and I wound up a couple weeks later at urgent care to get checked.

The professional diagnosis: I strained a muscle in my lower back.

Treatment: a muscle relaxer and an anti-inflammatory.

My pharmacy informed me my prescription was delayed because my insurer informed them the muscle relaxer requires “prior authorization.” (This notice came minutes after the prescription was received).

I call my insurer — CIGNA — to find out what that means and I first go through a long recorded introduction (in English and in Spanish) that lists categories I can press, none of which seem to include my question.

I finally get a human being — or at least a call center voice. She nicely, calmly explains that I need prior authorization, which I knew.

Finding out what prior authorization means (beyond what I thought, which was my medical professional’s prescription) was next to impossible without listening to the patient young woman explain about Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and other things…



B. Jay Cooper

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: