Arizona Death Panels

by Ben Hoffman

PHOENIX — 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.

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.

“The most difficult discussions are those that involve patients who had been on the donor list for a year or more and now we have to tell them they’re not on the list anymore,” said Dr. Rainer Gruessner, a transplant specialist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “The frustration is tremendous. It’s more than frustration.”

Organ transplants are already the subject of a web of regulations, which do not guarantee that everyone in need of a life-saving organ will receive one. But Arizona’s transplant specialists are alarmed that patients who were in line to receive transplants one day were, after the state’s budget cuts to its Medicaid program, ruled ineligible the next — unless they raised the money themselves.

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One Comment to “Arizona Death Panels”

  1. The New York Times. Please!
    Now that’s a bird cage line (and cruel to the bird). You use it underneath The Arizona Repulsive.
    —–Here’s a Better One —–
    The left’s favorite economist, who condemned others for saying ObamaCare would require death panels, now admits they are real and necessary. The way to control costs, he says, is death and taxes.

    Paul Krugman has long extolled the virtues of Britain’s National Health Service and its National Institute for Clinical Excellence with the Orwellian acronym of NICE. Krugman has been anything but nice to NHS critics and those who’ve said that what have been called its “death panels” would be brought to America via ObamaCare.

    In a roundtable discussion on ABC’s “This Week,” the New York Times columnist said of what recently came out of the president’s deficit commission: “Some years down the pike, we’re going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes.

    “Medicare is going to have to decide what it’s going to pay for,” Krugman said. “And at least for starters, it’s going to have to decide which medical procedures are not effective at all and should not be paid for at all. In other words, (the deficit commission) should have endorsed the panel that was part of the health care reform.”

    Krugman went right to his blog Sunday afternoon to “clarify” his comments. He explained, and we are willing to accept, that he was being derisive of the term and sarcastic. “I said something deliberately provocative on This Week,” Krugman wrote, “so I think I’d better clarify what I meant,” which is something he regularly denies to others.

    He explained that “health care costs will have to be controlled, which will surely require having Medicare and Medicaid decide what they’re willing to pay for — not really death panels, of course, but consideration of medical effectiveness and, at some point, how much we’re willing to spend for extreme care.”

    Whatever his intended use of the phrase “death panels,” what he describes are in fact “death panels.” A group of people will sit on a, er, panel, deciding what treatments are cost-effective and should be available and who should get them. That is called rationing and in cases of the “extreme care” he mentions, a life-and-death decision.

    That’s a death panel.

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