Even physicians with decades of experience telling patients that their lives are nearing an end are having difficulty discussing a potentially fatal condition that has arisen in Arizona: Death by budget cut.Let me interrupt the narrative and cut to the chase for the predictable forthcoming"why don't they just move to another state?" refrain: low-income means no income with which to move.
Effective at the beginning of October, Arizona stopped financing certain transplant operations under the state’s version of Medicaid. Many doctors say the decision amounts to a death sentence for some low-income patients, who have little chance of survival without transplants and lack the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to pay for them.
But get a load of the justifications being put forth by state Medicaid officials and others responsible for the cuts.
State Medicaid officials said they recommended discontinuing some transplants only after assessing the success rates for previous patients. Among the discontinued procedures are lung transplants, liver transplants for hepatitis C patients and some bone marrow and pancreas transplants, which altogether would save the state about $4.5 million a year.
“As an agency, we understand there have been difficult cuts and there will have to be more difficult cuts looking forward,” said Jennifer Carusetta, chief legislative liaison at the state Medicaid agency.
Which is a brain-dead way of saying, "we're using actuarial science to figure out who lives and who dies." If the probability points to you being dead in the short run, we'll go ahead and skimp on the treatment, bank the "cut," and call it a savings. As Jay points out at Montclair, talk about your "death panels."
You would think such "pull yourself up by your bootstraps or die trying" social Darwinism would be absent from an agency responsible for health care of the poor, but Arizona politics being what it is, I guess not.
What was that old Glen Campbell song? "By the time I get to Phoenix, you'll be dead."