Transplants in Arizona - Budgets and Lives at Stake - NYTimes.com
Re “Transplant Patients Put at Risk by a State’s Financial Distress” (front page, Dec. 3):
A constant refrain in the debate about universal access to health care in the United States is the assertion that it would inevitably lead to rationing of health care.
The decision by Arizona to disallow Medicaid coverage for organ transplants is but the latest reminder that health care is already being rationed in the United States. The rationing is done according to one’s ability to pay and clearly values the lives of the wealthy over the lives of the poor.
Neil W. Schluger New York, Dec. 3, 2010
The writer is chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
To the Editor:
Arizona’s decision to stop financing some lifesaving transplants was short-sighted and based on misleading data on transplant outcomes. This decision suggests that the state is rationing health care based on cost rather than on need, and the National Marrow Donor Program urges state officials to reconsider.
Our direct experience and countless clinical studies demonstrate that marrow transplants are a lifesaving therapy. For nearly 24 years, our program has facilitated more than 40,000 marrow and umbilical cord blood transplants for patients with a range of life-threatening diseases.
For many, it’s the only chance for cure, and failure to receive a transplant often results in prolonged illness that requires continuing high-cost care — and ultimately results in a preventable death.
We recognize the financial constraints facing Arizona and others, but blocking transplants is not the answer. Access to this lifesaving therapy should not depend on residency of the patient.
We urge the federal government to make transplant coverage mandatory for the Medicaid program. This will save countless lives and do more to reduce health care costs than denying care.
Jeffrey Chell Minneapolis, Dec. 3, 2010