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Sarah Palin was right: 'Death Panels' do exist in Arizona

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  • Sarah Palin was right: 'Death Panels' do exist in Arizona

    Remember all the accusations of death panels during the healthcare debate - proven false by most rational people. Well, as it turns out, there is a death panel of sorts in Arizona. And, it happens to be the GOP controlled state legislature with incredibly delusional Gov. Jan Brewer leading the way.

    Arizona Budget Cuts Put Organ Transplants At Risk

    In Arizona, 98 low-income patients approved for organ transplants have been told they are no longer getting them because of state budget cuts.

    The patients receive medical coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's version of Medicaid. While it may be common for private insurance companies or government agencies to change eligibility requirements for medical procedures ahead of time, medical ethicists say authorizing a procedure and then reversing that decision is unheard of.
    That's right, you 98 people who used to qualify for transplants, no longer do. Sorry, you can go die now. Then there is the story of this poor guy who was actually in the hospital getting ready to have a transplant when they suddenly notified him the state would no longer pay for it.

    Ariz. Man Denied Life-Saving Liver Transplant

    State Medicaid Plan Won't Cover His Procedure

    PHOENIX -- A Valley man 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.

    Francisco Felix, who has Hepatitis C, has been on the waiting list for a new liver since April, his wife said. A liver became available and Felix was ready for surgery at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital.

    Arizona's medicaid agency, AHCCCS, which has recently cut funding for some services, refused to pay for Felix's surgery.

    AHCCCS no longer cover liver transplants but not for patients with Hepatitis C, according to Jennifer Carusett, a spokeswoman for AHCCCS.

    The cuts were part of the Republican-lead legislature's plan to balance the budget, which Gov. Jan Brewer signed. The policy change took effect Oct. 1.
    This is the part of the story that's so disturbing.

    The liver Felix hoped to receive Tuesday was directly donated to him by a family friend who suddenly died Monday. But because Felix could not come up with $200,000 by 10a.m. Tuesday, the liver was given to someone else. Felix went to the hospital hoping AHCCCS would fund the operation on an emergency ruling.

    "The liver is gone because we don't have the money. That's why we lost this opportunity. But we have hope that something good is going to come," said his wife, Flor Felix.
    Let's talk about how immoral and unethical this is. You promise someone a liver transplant, but then renege and give away the liver that was donated by a family friend to someone else that, well, has a source of money. It's just sad.

    Ethics expert condemns AHCCCS budget cuts

    PHOENIX -- An expert in medical ethics says it is unethical and immoral to deny an organ transplant after it has been offered, as was done by Arizona's health care system for the poor because of budget cuts.

    Dr. Arthur Caplan from the Center for Bio-Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania said there was a lot of talk about "death panels" during the debate over President Barack Obama's health care plan.

    He said the case of Francisco Felix of Phoenix "is the worst example of a death panel I can think of because you're taking people who could be saved, who relied on a promise that the money would be there to save them, and then telling them that, to balance the budget, you're going to let them die."

    Felix was in a Phoenix hospital Monday, being prepped for a liver transplant, when he was notified that the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System would not pay for the operation. Unable to come up with $200,000, his donor liver went to another patient.

    AHCCCS stopped covering certain transplant operations under cost-cutting measures adopted by the Legislature last spring.

    Denying organs to dying patients is one thing, Caplan said, but promising to pay for a transplant and then going back on your word is another.

    "I think this is scurrilous. It's just the worst abandonment of the most vulnerable citizens in Arizona. You basically have had them rely on a promise. They make their plan, they're going to hope they get their shot, then an organ becomes available and -- then to find out that the promise was reneged upon, I think, is just terrible."
    |TG-X| mp40x

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  • #2
    Re: Sarah Palin was right: 'Death Panels' do exist in Arizona

    Here's an article from April that reports on Arizona's healthcare woes.

    Here's an article from August detailing the cuts. It's pro-conservative (referring to the new federal healthcare as "Obamacare"), but it does detail the various impacts of the cuts upon Arizona's system, asking if other states will have to make the same sort of cuts.

    Sad for the man, but he does have Hep C. The liver would have been a waste upon him (I say that knowing how harsh that sentiment is, and also realizing that my opinion might be different if I knew him).


    • #3
      Re: Sarah Palin was right: 'Death Panels' do exist in Arizona

      Originally posted by Gill View Post
      Sad for the man, but he does have Hep C. The liver would have been a waste upon him (I say that knowing how harsh that sentiment is, and also realizing that my opinion might be different if I knew him).
      The liver wouldn't have been available if his friend hadn't donated it to him, so the only 'waste' could even be was the cost to put it in him, not the liver itself.

      Also, Hep C is often treated with a liver transplant because the disease is treatable so while they may still have Hep C they can slow or stop the symptoms with treatment the majority of the time.

      How common is acute Hepatitis C in the United States?

      In 2007, there were an estimated 17,000 new Hepatitis C virus infections in the United States. However, the official number of reported Hepatitis C cases is much lower. Many people who are infected never have symptoms and therefore never come to the attention of medical or public health officials.
      How common is chronic Hepatitis C in the United States?

      An estimated 3.2 million persons in the United States have chronic Hepatitis C virus infection. Most people do not know they are infected because they don’t look or feel sick.
      How likely is it that acute Hepatitis C will become chronic?

      Approximately 75%–85% of people who become infected with Hepatitis C virus develop chronic infection.


      What are the long-term effects of Hepatitis C?

      Of every 100 people infected with the Hepatitis C virus, about

      * 75–85 people will develop chronic Hepatitis C virus infection; of those,
      o 60–70 people will go on to develop chronic liver disease
      o 5–20 people will go on to develop cirrhosis over a period of 20–30 years
      o 1–5 people will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer

      The seriousness is when it goes unnoticed and untreated. Once they have the transplant they require treatment to avoid future complications from Hep C coming back since the transplant isn't a cure, but the treatment is effective.

      Your opinion might be different if you didn't make judgments based on your ignorance of the topic.

      Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.


      • #4
        Re: Sarah Palin was right: 'Death Panels' do exist in Arizona

        I'm puzzled at how snide you've been lately, Snooggums. Was the last comment really necessary?

        Regarding the transplant: I was incorrect. I had previously been told that only 50% of patients with Hep C respond to treatment. I was unaware that the disease had two phases - acute and chronic - in which treatment during the acute phase was very successful (but not completely so).

        Reading the wikipedia article, successful treatment of Hep C during the acute phase is dependent upon which "genotype" has been contracted. Genotype 1 has a "greater than 90% success rate", while 2A and 3A have 81% and 74% (respectively).

        My opinion is unchanged.


        • #5
          Re: Sarah Palin was right: 'Death Panels' do exist in Arizona

          So despite your quoted high success rate for treatment for what I quoted as a less than 30% serious complication rate you stand by your 'waste' opinion?

          Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.


          • #6
            Re: Sarah Palin was right: 'Death Panels' do exist in Arizona

            This is pretty disturbing news regardless. Liver transplants are always risky business with patients because there's always going to be a case of 'Could this be better used elsewhere?'. I think the main point is that they promised a liver transplant and then took it back. That alone is immoral. You don't go back on your word, especially when it comes to medical care.


            • #7
              Re: Sarah Palin was right: 'Death Panels' do exist in Arizona

              As an aside, there's also stories of other "we don't have the money to pay for your treatment" denials of coverage in Arizona:


              State Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said some lawmakers agree that they based the cuts on potentially flawed data. He said they would review JLBC's analysis to reconsider transplant cuts. However, Gov. Jan Brewer would have to call for a special session before they could reinstate funding.

              Brewer's spokesman, Paul Senseman, said the governor would not consider a special session unless someone proposes how the state would make up for the $1 billion gap in AHCCCS' budget.

              Reinstating the transplant benefits would cost the state about $1.5 million, according to AHCCCS.

              Democratic state Rep. Matt Heinz, a physician at the Tucson Medical Center, said the transplant cuts are life-threatening and must be reconsidered with priority.

              "How many more anonymous donors are we gonna be able to count on for the next patient who gets a match?" Heinz said.

              Heinz said restoring transplant funding would be a small portion of the AHCCCS budget and that legislators already have put forth a "cost-neutral" proposal to address transplant cuts.

              Senseman said it's not that simple. The cost-neutral proposal isn't new and wouldn't result in savings. In addition, he said federal health-care mandates have created an even larger funding problem for AHCCCS, and the state still has a $150 million deficit for this fiscal year. So if there were a special session on AHCCCS, it would be to trim funding instead of growing it, Senseman said.




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