Even physicians with decades of experience telling patients that their lives are nearing an end are having difficulty discussing a potentially fatal condition that has arisen in Arizona: Death by budget cut.
Effective at the beginning of October, Arizona stopped financing certain transplant operations under the state’s version of Medicaid. Many doctors say the decision amounts to a death sentence for some low-income patients, who have little chance of survival without transplants and lack the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to pay for them.
“The most difficult discussions are those that involve patients who had been on the donor list for a year or more and now we have to tell them they’re not on the list anymore,” said Dr. Rainer Gruessner, a transplant specialist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “The frustration is tremendous. It’s more than frustration.”
Meanwhile, NYT columnist Gail Collins notes:
It’s hard to give Arizona the benefit of the doubt on anything these days, what with the state’s dubious performances in matters like illegal immigrant hysteria, the selling of the State Capitol to help balance the budget, and the electing of Jan Brewer. However, let’s accept that given their economic problems, it would be natural for the Legislature to want to try to cut the Medicaid budget. Although preferably in some saner, less brutal manner.
But try to imagine what the Republicans would have said if someone in the Obama administration proposed cutting off liver transplants for Medicare recipients. We heard a lot from John McCain during the health care debate about how reform would restrict Medicare services. We have not heard a word yet on how McCain feels about the Arizona transplant issue. His office did not respond to inquiries about whether he approves his state’s pulling the plug on a 32-year-old father.
Read the whole thing here.
The story isn't going away. Democrats in the Arizona Senate have scheduled another press conference on the transplant issue tomorrow.