Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Here Come The Death Panels

Remember those? The Republicans argued that the health care reform would result in death panels to decide who shall live and who shall die?

Well, Arizona has decided to adopt that measure, in some ways:

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.
I used the words "in some ways" because anyone waiting for an organ transplant already faces tough odds. But still. As the above quote notes, it is unheard of to reverse a decision this way:

"To basically renege on what you promised was [going to] be a chance at life is a very, very bitter indictment of the ethics of the Legislature," says Arthur Caplan, head of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Caplan calls the reversal "awful" behavior because Arizona is going back on a covenant it made with its patients, and because these are patients for whom time is critical — patients who spent months, some years, thinking they were covered.

"They then stop trying to raise money, stop trying to see what Uncle Fred might be willing to give them," Caplan says. "They don't have the bake sale. They don't make the appeal in church."
But Arizona could save about 4.5 million this year!

My guess is that this decision will be reversed, though other cuts will be found and they, too, are going to hurt real people, often people too weak to fight the cuts and without imminent death hanging over their heads.

But think of the savings!

Note that budget cuts are what Republicans really desire right now.