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Jan 12 2011

The Arizona Death Panel: Death by Budget Cuts

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Last March, the Republican controlled Arizona State Legislature cut $1.4 million from state’s Medicaid program – Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) – cutting off urgent transplant funding that was previously promised to 98 Arizonans. Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who advocated for the cuts, has blamed those cuts on “Obamacare” even though the bill had not even been signed into law at the time the cuts were made. The cuts have attracted the attention of the foreign media. When Brewer was asked by Britain’s Channel 4 News Washington correspondent Sarah Smith “how many people would die” before she restored the funding Brewer quipped, “if people are so worried about the transplant patients, then they should ask the federal government in Washington to send us more money”. Brewer has yet to explain what she did with the $200 million that Arizona received in stimulus funds. Maybe Darrell Issa would like to investigate that.

Since the cuts went into effect two of those patients now have died. The “Brewer Death List” is now down to 96.

In late November, Mark Price, an Arizona father who had been battling leukemia for a year, died due to complications related to chemotherapy treatment he was receiving. Price was awaiting an organ transplant that could’ve saved his life, but he was unable to receive one in time due to Brewer’s budget cuts.

Now, the University of Arizona Medical Center has told the press that another patient passed away in late December because they were unable to get their organ transplant funded. Although the attending physicians declined to release the name of the patient out of respect for the family’s privacy, they confirmed that the patient that passed away was one of the 98 Arizonans cut off from organ transplants by Brewer and the GOP-controlled state legislature. He “was our patient. He was on our list,” said surgery department spokeswoman Jo Marie Gellerman.

Not all Republicans are as heartless as Gov. Brewer and the legislature. An Illinois State GOP Central Committeeman, Steven Daglas, working with others found solutions to restoring the funding, one from a $2 million AIG settlement or transferring $1.2 million from a now defunct plan to build bridges for endangered squirrels (No, I did not make that up) or using a portion of unclaimed lottery player prize winnings, roughly $6 million annually.. However, Daglas has heard nothing but silence from Brewer’s office

Since early last month, Daglas and those with whom he is working have been reaching out to the governor and her staff with the ideas. Among other things, they sent a letter that required a signature confirmation so they knew the information was getting through.

But they haven’t heard back.

“We’re worried that maybe her office is thinking that we’re offering these ideas as a way to attack her or make her look bad, and that isn’t it at all,” Daglas said. “I’m a Republican guy from Illinois. We have plenty of problems up here. We’re just concerned about these transplant patients and want to help. We have provided detailed information about the suggestions, the statutes, the original sources and so on.”

Daglas and five of the families of the patients from the transplant list have launched a web site, Arizona98.com, The website lists 26 possible ways that Arizona can shift funding in order to pay for the transplant procedures without having to raise any additional revenue.

On “Countdown”, Keith Olbermann discussed these cuts and revealed that one those whose life is threatened by these cuts is the great granddaughter of Franklin Roosevelt. As Arizona mourns one senseless tragedy, who will stop another one?

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