Arizona Budget Cuts Put Lives at Risk

After the Tea Party-induced firestorm about imaginary death panels in health care reform, GOP budget cuts to Medicaid in Arizona are resulting in deaths for patients who had qualified for Medicaid coverage for organ transplants but were dropped after the GOP-controlled state legislature and GOP Governor cut funding for the program. Ninety-eight patients became ineligible, according to a report by CNN.

One patient, Randy Shephard, had rheumatic fever when he was a child and the disease damaged his heart. That became a pre-existing condition and prevented him from getting health insurance, which forced him to go on Medicaid. The state Medicaid budget cuts made him ineligible for a heart transplant.

Ironically, the health care reform bill passed by Democrats would make it possible for Shephard to get health insurance even though he has a pre-existing condition. And, Democrats in the last Congress pushed hard for increased aid to states for their Medicaid costs, but faced repeated opposition by Republicans in the House and Senate. The new GOP House budget plan calls for repeal of health care reform and elimination of aid to states for their Medicaid programs.

Two formerly eligible patients have died since the cuts were put in place. One was waiting for a bone marrow transplant and another died after being taken off the list for a liver transplant.