Death By Budget Cut. Financial Constraints In State Budgets Prevents Organ Transplants For Patients In A Life Or Death Situation.


In October, 2010, Arizona stopped financing certain transplant operations under the state’s version of Medicaid. The decision amounts to a death sentence for patients who have no insurance to cover the cost of a transplant and lack the money to pay for a transplant. Patients who were in line for an organ transplant were, after the state’s budget cuts to its Medicaid program, ruled ineligible and removed from the list of possible transplant recipients unless they pay for the operation themselves. Many patients no longer qualify for state-financed transplants.

While states across the nation are cutting back on Medicaid benefits, none have gone as far as Arizona in eliminating organ transplants that are potentially life-saving. Under federal law, transplants are considered “optional”. Tell that to the patient whose life depends on a transplant!

State Medicaid officials in Arizona esimated that the budget cuts for transplant operations will save the state about $4.5 million a year. Arizona’s Medicaid agency further claims that the transplants are not cost-effective since 13 of 14 patients under the state’s health system who received bone marrow transplants over a two-year period died within six months. Bone marrow transplant physicians dispute this claim and point out that patients will die because of the state’s budget cut-backs.

An Arizona physician commented, “Times are tight and cuts are needed, but you can’t cut human lives.” Amen to that! Here’s a crucial distinction that the legislators in Arizona are missing: there is a difference between discretionary state spending and non-discretionary spending. “Discretionary” state spending entails state expenditures on luxury items, such as promoting the arts and giving guided tours of the state capitol building. On the other hand, “non-discretionary” state spending entails non-luxury items, such as bridges, roads and most importantly, life-saving medical operations, such as organ transplants.

The decision by legislators in Arizona to eliminate state Medicaid funding for transplant operations cannot be justified under any circumstances! There is no more important use of state funds than the preservation of human life. This is not just short-sighted. It is barbaric to deprive patients of life-saving transplant operations. I want to hear from a single person who feels he/she can justify this ridiculous cut in funding for organ transplants.

Does this get you mad? It should. This new law is absurd!