Medicaid Cuts Make Organ Transplants Unaffordable for Some - ABC News
Randy Shepherd is a 36-year-old father of three who needs a transplant to replace a failing heart weakened by childhood bouts of rheumatic fever. When he was placed on a transplant waiting list last year, the prospect of resuming a normal life with a healthy donor heart helped him tolerate the fatigue, lost appetite and the inability to play sports he loved and work at the small plumbing business he founded. But nothing prepared him for the shock of learning that Arizona's Medicaid program was eliminating transplant coverage for people with his condition.
"They said I would be placed on the inactive list until I could arrange some kind of alternative financing because it is considered elective surgery...The reductions made by the Arizona state government were approved by the federal government, according to an Aug. 11 letter from Gloria Nagle, associate regional administrator for the Division of Medicaid & Children's Health Operations. In addition to limiting organ transplants, Arizona also restricted coverage of prosthetics and zeroed out podiatrists' services, preventive dental services, and wellness and physical exams for adult Medicaid enrollees.
"This may be a harbinger of what will evolve in this Obama national healthcare system where the expense of the health system will only be able to be contained by limitation of access," said Dr. David C. Cronin, director of liver transplantation at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "So everybody may be covered, but all services may not be available."Arizona Medicaid patients were notified on Aug. 27 of the impending changes, prompted by a 30 percent increase in enrollment during the recession and a federal requirement that the program maintain its eligibility requirements despite receiving fewer federal matching dollars.