Tuesday, April 05, 2011

House Democrats: ‘Transplant patients deserve answer from GOP now’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Minority Whip Anna Tovar, a two-time bone marrow transplant recipient, released the following statement today about Gov. Jan Brewer’s “intent” to fund transplants:

“As a leukemia survivor, I know what it’s like to be in a life-or-death situation — I’ve been in one twice. Thankfully, both times, I was fortunate enough to be a bone-marrow transplant recipient and live. But I’m most thankful to be able to be right here at the capitol, fighting for transplant patients in Arizona and taking on the politicians who continue to leave a question mark on their lives at the expense of their own political agenda.

“At least two people in Arizona have died after Republicans and Gov. Brewer eliminated their health-care coverage for transplants six months ago. Now, nearly 100 Arizonans’ lives could still hang in the balance, no matter what Gov. Brewer’s ‘intent’ is.

“Republicans’ budget currently has an unclear provision that is an ‘intent clause’ stating that it is the intent of the legislature to fund the transplant services that were eliminated in last year’s budget. But to reinstate coverage for transplants, the legislature would have to add back into statute coverage eliminated in last year’s budget. Otherwise, AHCCCS does not have statutory authorization to fund transplants. The legislature also would have to either make an appropriation or direct AHCCCS to find the money within the agency’s budget. Republicans’ budget passed last week does neither.

“Gov. Brewer’s letter outlining her Medicaid plan and the Republicans’ budget including a transplant provision express the intent to restore transplant coverage, but neither actually restores transplant coverage in state statute. Therefore, it is unclear if transplants currently are covered, even though Gov. Brewer is saying they are.

“Just as most Americans get the run around from their health insurance companies, these transplant patients’ lives are getting run over by Arizona’s government and it’s time to hold government accountable.

“Transplant patients in Arizona have been living every day like it’s their last for the past six months, and for some of them it was their last, while Gov. Brewer and Republicans did nothing — nothing — to correct their admitted mistake. Democrats offered funding solutions multiple times but Republicans and Gov. Brewer ignored them (See: Tovar proposes bills to restore transplants, save lives).

“I know what these transplant patients are going through, and they don’t want to see an ‘intent’ to give them a chance to live. They want to know they will have a chance to live. Until Arizona’s transplant patients receive their coverage, ‘We, the people’ must hold Gov. Brewer and Republicans accountable for their inaction on transplants.

“Therefore, we hope Gov. Brewer would prove her ‘intent’ by sending letters in writing to transplant patients that they are in fact covered and will receive their life-saving procedures.”

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