How much is a life worth?

Pamela - posted on 12/15/2010 ( 3 moms have responded )

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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is facing intense criticism and scrutiny for declining requests to hold a special session to reinstate medical transplant coverage, which for some patients was covered by the state until recently when the health care program ended.

The Tucson Sentinel reported on Tuesday:

Mesa resident Randy Shepherd, a 36-year-old father of three, has been living with a pacemaker for several years and now is facing what he says is his last treatment option: a heart transplant.
But Shepherd's hopes for a transplant were dashed when the state cut Medicaid funding for certain transplants under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

"Look at all of us who need these transplants," Shepherd said, joined Tuesday by three others who say they are unable to get live-saving transplants due to the cuts. "It's not an option for us; it's a necessity."

Tiffany Tate, who told the Arizona-based outlet that she was diagnosed with a chronic lung disease when she was a young child more than two decades ago, addressed the stakes she faces if she is unable to receive treatment.

"The state needs to come together so we can have a second chance at life," she explained. "I want to travel, to play basketball again. It would mean everything to me."

The Arizona Republic reports:

Democratic legislators again called for Brewer to hold a special session or use discretionary federal stimulus funds to reinstate cuts for certain transplant coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

Brewer maintains her position that unless legislators provide a solution to what her office calls a $1 billion gap in funding for the Medicaid agency, she will not call a special session.
The AP recently reported:

"This "Brewercare" has set up real death panels here in Arizona and it is outrageous and disgusting," said [Arizona Democratic state] Rep. Anna Tovar, who had bone marrow transplants in 2001 and 2002 to treat leukemia.

The Medicaid cuts have also reportedly been criticized as "Brewer death panels."

The New York Times recently reported:

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. ... Just before the Oct. 1 deadline, Mark Price, a father of six who was fighting leukemia, learned he needed a bone marrow transplant. But his doctor, Jeffrey R. Schriber, found donor matches for his transplant the very day the new rules went into effect, and Mr. Price no longer qualified for coverage by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the formal name for the state's Medicaid program.

What happened next was at once inspirational and heart-rending.

Out of the blue, an anonymous financial donor quickly stepped forward and agreed to cover the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed for Mr. Price's surgery. But Mr. Price died last weekend, after his cancer returned before the operation could be done. He was buried on Thursday, next to his grandfather.

According to Arizona Fox affiliate KMSB-TV, Arizona ranks below average on a list of the healthiest and least healthy states in the country. The local outlet reported that the Grand Canyon state came in 31st as suggested by the data put out by the the non-profit United Health Foundation.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Republic reported on a small silver lining to the tragic and dire situation:

As a result of news coverage, patients registered in the National Transplant Assistance Fund have seen a surge of donations. As of Saturday, Laveen liver-disease patient Francisco Felix had raised $74,124 and Mesa heart-transplant hopeful Randy Shepherd had raised $52,720, according to the organization. Both need to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

So, after all the Republican and Tea Party hubaballo about death panels and grandma being put down like the family pet if Obama's Health care reform were put into place, Arizona gives us...death panels. People with life threatening conditions, in need of transplants (which cost a gazillion dollars - and insurance companies loath to pay), Jan Brewer cuts the state's Medicaid for these procedures, pretty much ensuring that these people will not survive. How does that work? Is that what we really want? How much is a life worth?

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Alicia - posted on 01/03/2011

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I understand that they can't cover everyone - but it's sad that they can't cover SOME of them. Even if they cover the first X number per year is better than just not covering ANY of them. Health care reform is badly needed.

Pamela - posted on 12/16/2010

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I think there really is such a thing as a compassionate conservative - and I think many of the Republicans of the past fell more into that category than they do now. Unfortunately, most of the Republicans who actually wanted to get things done that worked for the country and functioned as statesmen have mostly been booted out of the party.

And I understand Brewer's position of "we don't have the money to cover these people". Okay then. I get that. But then perhaps we need to look at the insurance and pharma companies who hold us hostage to these soaring medical costs. Oh wait. This is why we wanted healthcare reform.

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