Arizona Cuts Financing for Transplant Patients - NYTimes.com
PHOENIX — 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.”
The issue has led to a fierce political battle, with Democrats condemning the reductions as “Brewercare,” after Gov. Jan Brewer.
The Republican governor has in turn blamed “Obamacare,” meaning the federal health care overhaul, for the transplant cuts even though the Arizona vote came in March, before President Obama signed that bill into law.