Arizona Cuts Transplants to Low-Income to Balance Budget
Rationing of medical care has hit the state of Arizona as it changes the rules on 98 low-income patients who had already received approval for organ transplants. The rule changes are due to state budget cuts which became effective Oct. 1, 2010.
The patients receive medical coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona’s version of Medicaid.
Medical ethicists and national transplant organizations are voicing strong opinions against the changes.
NPR notes “medical ethicists say authorizing a procedure and then reversing that decision is unheard of” and feel that “Arizona is going back on a covenant it made with its patients, and because these are patients for whom time is critical.”
The American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and American Society of Transplantation (AST) have issued a letter to Arizona’s governor requesting a meeting.
Included in the letter from the transplant organizations is this statement, “This baseless exclusion of coverage to Arizona citizens for services that represent the best treatment option for patients with endstage organ failure (to both improve survival and quality of life) represents an actual death sentence for many of these citizens of Arizona.”
Those affected by this new exclusion includes Randy Shepherd, 36, who has cardiomyopathy and needs a heart transplant and Francisco Felix, 32, who due to Hepatitis C needs a liver transplant. Felix was in the surgery room, prepped and ready for his life-saving liver transplant when doctors told him the state's Medicaid plan wouldn't cover the procedure. The liver he was to receive went to someone else.
Is this the sort of rationing of medical care we will be seeing more of in the future?