Tuesday, December 07, 2010

News coverage on Brewercare death panels for transplant patients

News coverage from Democratic lawmakers' press conference today:

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

CNBC: Democrats demand restoration of transplant funding
KSWT13 Yuma: Democrats demand restoration of transplant funding
KTAR: State Dems make push to reinstate AHCCCS funding
Fox10: Patients desperately needing transplants share stories
The Arizona Republic: Gov. Brewer rejects call to move on organ-transplant funds

Democratic lawmakers, transplant patients, doctors urge GOP to fix ‘mistake’

Still no action taken as nearly 100 Arizonans are denied life-saving transplants

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democratic lawmakers, transplant patients and doctors urged Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican lawmakers today to take immediate action to correct their admitted “mistake” of cutting health care for transplants.

So far, Republicans have taken no action in 68 days since their cuts to transplants took effect on Oct. 1. Meanwhile, transplant patients and their families are waiting desperately for the life-saving procedures.

“At this point, Jan Brewer is a one-person death panel,” said incoming Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira. “Brewer describes these transplants that she chose to ‘discard’ as ‘optional.’ A transplant isn’t an option for someone who is fighting for their life under Brewercare.”

Brewer’s office lied by blaming the new federal health care law for their own state cuts to transplants — Republicans voted to cut transplants before the federal law passed.

Democrats are urging Brewer to use federal stimulus dollars or call a special session immediately to save the $1.4 million transplant program. According to state economists, Brewer has $30 million in discretionary stimulus funds. She recently used $2 million on an algae program and $20 million to fix the roof of the Coliseum.

According to state economists, Brewer claims she has used the $30 million, but has not disclosed where she spent the money. She also has not disclosed that information to the public and has not responded to lawmakers’ and reporters’ public records requests to uncover how she spent Arizona’s money.

“People’s lives are at stake,” said Rep. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13), a two-time transplant recipient. “I know that these families and their loved ones are fighting for their lives. As a transplant survivor, I know the difficult times they face. It’s time to hold Republicans accountable for wrong choices they made before another Arizonan dies.”

Dr. Maryl R. Johnson, president of the American Society of Transplantation and medical director of heart failure and transplantation at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, stood with transplant patients Randy Shepherd, Francisco Felix, Tiffany Tate, Douglas Gravagna and their families, as well as the family of Mark Price to call for action.

"The American Society of Transplantation is grateful for the ongoing dialogue and interaction with Arizona state leaders on this critical life and death issue,” Johnson said. “This is not a partisan issue. We have had positive conversations with leaders from both political parties as well as the governor's office. That said, an immediate solution must be identified before any Arizonans die awaiting life-saving donor organs. The real life repercussions of the Medicaid cuts we are discussing today will not simply reduce an individual's quality of life, rather they will determine whether or not an individual lives or dies. The modest savings achieved through these coverage cuts are not worth the loss of human life."

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See Rep. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson (District 13), on CNN's Anderson Cooper!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Sinema holds GOP accountable for ‘NO’ votes, urges action on jobless aid

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Assistant House Democratic Leader Kyrsten Sinema is holding Republicans accountable for failing to extend unemployment benefits to Arizonans who are out of work due to failed GOP economic policies.

Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans will lose jobless aid during the holidays thanks to Republicans’ “NO” votes on extending it. Nearly 600,000 jobs across the nation will be lost over the year and the U.S. economy will be 0.6 percent lower than it is today.

“It is just unconscionable that Arizona Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain voted against getting our economy back on track and instead voted to make it worse,” Sinema said. “It is disgusting that Republicans will break the tradition of supporting unemployment benefits, yet they are tirelessly supporting tax cuts for multimillionaires. It makes no sense.”

The Congressional Budget Office says every $1 spent on unemployment benefits generates up to nearly $2 in economic growth. The program is the most effective government policy for generating growth among 11 options the CBO has analyzed.

Earlier this year, Kyl actually said he felt jobless aid was a "disincentive" to out-of-work Americans to find new work.

"I'm sure most of them would like work and probably have tried to seek it, but you can't argue it's a job enhancer," Kyl said on the Senate floor when debating the topic of a federal unemployment benefits extension to allow states, such as Arizona, to continue to pay out benefits.

On the state level, Republicans’ lack of support for Arizonans trying to find work during a 10 percent unemployment rate is similar. Gov. Jan Brewer and Republicans killed a bill that would have raised Arizona’s jobless aid pay rate, one of the lowest in the nation. Brewer also rejected $150 million of federal stimulus money to modernize the unemployment insurance system; that money went to other states.

“For every one job in the nation, five Americans are fighting for it right now,” Sinema said. “In Arizona, we have one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation and it’s not getting any better. McCain and Kyl will have another opportunity to make the right choice in extending unemployment benefits and I am urging them to vote ‘YES’.”

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