Today, we thought we’d share an article in The New York Times < this weekend about cuts that the State of Arizona made to its a href=”https://www.cms.gov/home/medicaid.asp”>Medicaid program on Oct. 1 for certain transplants of the heart, liver, lung, pancreas and bone marrow. The cuts have put life-saving transplants to 100 adults on the Transplant List in serious jeopardy, forcing many families to try to raise the immense amounts of money necessary for the life-saving procedures on their own:
“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.”
Organ transplants are already the subject of a web of regulations, which do not guarantee that everyone in need of a life-saving organ will receive one. But Arizona’s transplant specialists are alarmed that patients who were in line to receive transplants one day were, after the state’s budget cuts to its Medicaid program, ruled ineligible the next — unless they raised the money themselves.
Francisco Felix, 32, a father of four who has hepatitis C and is in need of a liver, received news a few weeks ago that a family friend was dying and wanted to donate her liver to him. But the budget cuts meant he no longer qualified for a state-financed transplant.
He was prepared anyway at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center as his relatives scrambled to raise the needed $200,000. When the money did not come through, the liver went to someone else on the transplant list.
“I know times are tight and cuts are needed, but you can’t cut human lives,” said Mr. Felix’s wife, Flor. “You just can’t do that.”
Such high drama is unfolding regularly here as more and more of the roughly 100 people affected by the cuts are becoming known: the father of six who died before receiving a bone marrow transplant, the plumber in need of a new heart and the high school basketball coach who struggles to breathe during games at high altitudes as she awaits a lung transplant.
We think that this story speaks for itself, but we’ll also note that Arizona is the only state that has cut its Children’s Health Insurance Program, a move which dropped health insurance for 47,000 low-income children in the state. (Arizona’s CHIP program was restored when when lawmakers determined that cutting the program may have jeopardized billions in federal matching money.)
What do you think about Arizona’s Medicaid cuts? Will other states follow Arizona’s lead? Tell us about it!
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- Verdict in the Anthem Blue Cross Transplant Lawsuit Finally Comes Down
- Healthcare Reform: Immediate Changes in Medicaid