Saturday, December 4, 2010

Arizona’s Medicaid Cuts for Transplants Is Seen as Sign of Financial Times - NYTimes.com

Arizona’s Medicaid Cuts for Transplants Is Seen as Sign of Financial Times - NYTimes.com

With enrollments exploding, revenues shrinking and the low-hanging fruit plucked long ago, virtually every state has had to make painful cuts to its Medicaid program during the economic downturn.

What distinguishes the reductions recently imposed in Arizona, where coverage was eliminated on Oct. 1 for certain transplants of the heart, liver, lung, pancreas and bone marrow, is the decision to stop paying for treatments urgently needed to ward off death.

The cuts in transplant coverage, which could deny organs to 100 adults currently on the transplant list, are testament to both the severity of fiscal pressures on the states and the particular bloodlessness of budget-cutting in Arizona.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services do not monitor which states use Medicaid money for transplants. But health experts said no other state had withdrawn coverage for patients pursuing transplants.

Arizona’s decision, by Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, and the Republican-controlled Legislature, was made after state officials assessed success and survival rates for a number of transplant procedures. National transplant groups call the figures misleading.

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