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New Coalition Seeks to Restore Arizona Medicaid Funding
98 Arizonans were promised then denied coverage for life saving organ transplants. New Coalition forms to pressure legislature and Governor to restore funding.
By: Bob Aronson
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New Coalition Seeks to Restore Arizona Medicaid Transplant Funding
A powerful new organization has been formed to help restore Medicaid coverage for Arizona organ transplant patients and to prevent similar cuts in other states. The mission of “The Dream of Life Intervention Coalition” (DLIC) is to help patients with life-threatening health conditions get or keep Medicaid and/or Medicare insurance coverage.
The DLIC will emphasize four points in its campaign:
1. Denying Medicaid patients organ transplants is a death sentence. Transplants are their only option for living. (Two have already died in Arizona and 30 more could die this year. Many children will be left with one parent, others could become orphans).
2. If we don’t reverse the Arizona situation it could be seen by other states as permission to do the same thing and these death panels will begin to spread across the nation (If that happens, thousands if not millions could be sentenced to death and despair by budget slashing, heartless politicians. What’s next, banning chemo or radiation therapy for cancer patients? Is that what America is about?)
3. DLIC strongly believes that sending people to their death is no way to solve budget problems (doing so flies in the face of the constitutional guarantee that our government exists to protect its citizens and provide for their general welfare. The constitution does not say that killing citizens is permissible if it will save money.)
4. We do not want to allow these issues to go unaddressed and therefore encourage medical tourism or influence migration to other states or countries that have more accessible health benefits (that would shift the burden to regions that are unprepared to absorb the impact while maintaining the human and moral commitment to be socially responsible for our citizens).
On October 1, 2010 the state of Arizona told 98 of its legal citizens that Medicaid would not cover life saving organ transplants despite having promised them earlier that the procedures would be covered. Since that order, two of the 98 have died and another is said to be selling her belongings in order to move somewhere where Medicaid will cover her liver transplant. Governor Jan Brewer says the cuts were made to help reduce the state’s budget deficit. She remains opposed to restoring the funding.
Last Monday January 10, 2011, leaders of several advocacy groups joined in a conference call with Arizona senate Minority leader David Schapira and State Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) to discuss the issue. Senator Sinema has introduced a bill she says would provide more than enough money to restore transplant funding and provide millions more to help reduce the state’s budget deficit.
The conference call revolved around ways in which DLIC could assist with the effort to restore funding. While the Governor’s office says the transplants would cost nearly $5 million, Jennifer Carusetta, legislative liaison for Arizona Medicaid, says cutting transplants would only save $800,000 in the current fiscal year, and only $1.4 million for a full year.
Participating in the call was William Remak Chair of the National Association of Hepatitis Task Forces (NAHTF), two time liver transplant recipient and cancer survivor; Julie Acklin, Arizona Director of the NAHTF; Bob Aronson, heart transplant recipient and founder of Save the Arizona 98 and Facebook’s Organ Transplant Initiative; Patricia Lupole, Director of the Hepatitis C Veterans group (thehvcvets.com)
Senators Schapira and Sinema said that while Democratic support for the bill was strong, some in the Republican majority were willing to review it while others were less enthusiastic. As a result the new group, Dream of Life Intervention Coalition, decided unanimously to embark on a nationwide campaign to bring greater visibility to the Arizona situation and to rally public opinion to put increased pressure on Arizona officials to restore Medicaid covered organ transplant funding. Additionally DLIC will work to help ensure that Medicaid cuts throughout the country at state levels do not result in restricting life saving interventions for people in dire circumstances.
DLIC is working on a more detailed communication plan and will soon provide the public with steps they can take to begin the campaign to stop the dying by restoring funding.
***William (Bill) Remak, BSMT, BSPH, SGNA, AHCJ., has initiated coordinating this collaborative effort in response to the pleas and desperation demonstrated by the families of the chronically ill from the neighboring state of California where he sits on the steering committee of the California Chronic Care Coalition. Bill said.” No state public servant or elected official should sacrifice the lives of their constituents as a means to flex their political party muscle or power by using policy to destroy the fabric of our value as human beings. It defeats the core of our ability to thrive as a nation and can only lead to the devastation of mankind.”
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.” -Helen Keller (1880 – 1968)
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Dream of Life Intervention Coalition is an non profit advocacy group that seeks to help patients with life-threatening health conditions get or keep Medicaid and/or Medicare insurance coverage. Our first project is to restore Arizona Medicaid funding for the 98 people who were denied organ transplatns. Bob Aronson is the founder of Save the Arizona 98 www.savethearizona98.com and Facebook's OrganTransplant Initiative.