Monday, April 11, 2011

House Democrats thank transplant patients, urge audit of AHCCCS

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Democrats thanked transplant patients today for fighting with them to get transplant funding restored at least until 2013 and requested an audit of AHCCCS’s handling of the transplant issue.

House Democrats said outdated information from AHCCCS led to Republicans’ justification of their decision to eliminate transplants, and the agency failed to notify some patients without notification.

“Over the past two years, and especially during the past six months, transplant patients and their families, along with House Democrats, have been fighting to save lives,” said House Democratic Whip Anna Tovar, a two-time transplant recipient. “Today, we can say that according to information that AHCCCS has posted to its website, finally, after this long fight, we have won, at least temporarily, but there is still more work to do.”

House Democrats and Tovar, who has had two bone-marrow transplants for leukemia have been working for the past six months with transplant patients to restore the procedures Republicans eliminated in their 2010 budget.

Since the elimination, two patients have died and nearly 100 others were unable to receive the life-saving procedures they needed. Gov. Jan Brewer called transplants “optional” and asked for funded solutions that Democrats produced but that she ignored.

Finally, after an agonizing six months for transplant patients who didn’t know if they would live or die, Brewer decided to include an “intent” clause in the budget to restore transplants, but only until 2013.

But outdated statistics from AHCCCS claiming some transplants were ineffective originally led to Republicans’ decision to eliminate them. AHCCCS also approved at least one patient they originally eliminated but didn’t inform him.

Tovar announced today she is asking for an audit of the agency on their handling of transplants to ensure these life-endangering mistakes never happen again.

“A special audit will hold government accountable and ensure that ineffective AHCCCS policies are reformed to ensure patients’ rights,” said Assistant House Minority Leader Steve Farley. “It will guarantee the legislature receives up-to-date, accurate information when making these highly sensitive and enormously important policy decisions. These decisions not only impact the livelihood of our citizens but their very ability to live.”

So far, Sen. Rick Murphy, the chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, has not responded to Tovar’s letter. “These infractions are problems I hope Sen. Murphy will take seriously,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said. “Arizonans are ready for government to start solving problems and working for them and their families.”

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Letter from Kim Vega, sister of transplant patient Douglas Gravagna

Tovar's letter to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee

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