Arizona Cuts Transplant Medicaid Funding

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Russell Pearce, President-elect of the Arizona State Senate, tells us why the state legislature decided to cut Medicaid funding for several types of transplants and why he thinks that such cuts are necessary to close the state's budget gap. Michael Abecassis, director of Northwestern University's comprehensive transplant center and president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, takes the opposing view, arguing that the cuts are flawed and have no basis in medicine.


Michael Abecassis and Russell Pearce

Comments [51]

Brittany Bailey from Arizona

I am so sick of the senationalist rhetoric of the the right. I don't care how tight the federal government's "handcuffs" are. I want Arizona to just be accountable for itself already.

Sorry, but any way Pearce cuts it, HE is still the one who condemned the 98 people in need of medical attention. I wish he'd put his politics away for a second and understand the gravity of that.

Jan. 10 2011 06:37 PM
Paul from Jersey City

Would some one please explain how the healthcare reform bill causes Medicaid spending by the states to increase?

My understanding is that the Federal government will pay 100% for the first couple of years and then 90% later of the costs associated with increasing enrollment.

Dec. 23 2010 09:04 AM

I so agree with Joe, who wrote his message at 11:41 A.M. I wanted to throw-up, when the state senator talked about being poor and making good. Basically, he told the rest of us - I made it, the hell with you who didn't. Despicable.

Dec. 22 2010 02:23 PM
Dylan from Brooklyn


You didn't ask him once on how the new health bill handcuff's him. But he managed to say it over four times and get angrier and more irrational after he stated that. How would the state be handcuffed with the new health bill?

Dec. 22 2010 02:21 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn, NY

Hi, Brian, It’s all very well for that state senator from Arizona to speak of making hard decisions when his life is not at stake. He does not have to worry about health insurance and he probably never will. Frankly, I have never heard of anything as heartless and inhumane. Eugenia Renskoff

Dec. 22 2010 01:45 PM
Ken from Manhattan

I am appalled by your use of the Republican derisive term "Obamacare". It defames the President of the United States and our country.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was created by the exercise of the will the elected representatives of the American people utilizing the laws and procedures of our country. Your fawning acceptance of Senator Pearce's language is a disgrace and discredits WNYC.

Dec. 22 2010 12:26 PM
Zach from UWS

Now I understand why Republicans were so concerned about "death panels." It's not because the Obama Plan specifically called for "Death Panels," but because Republican-administered heathcare would, by virtue of their classist, Social Darwinist value of the rich over the poor, invariably result in these "death panels." Thanks for clearing that up Senator Pearce.

Dec. 22 2010 11:42 AM

So, when this state senator was a poor boy weren't he and siblings taking other peoples' money by receiving free public education? America didn't always have such a policy. Many of the 18th and 19th c. rich thought that education should go to only to those who could pay. This country decided that widespread education would ultimately make America better. Same should be true for health. Somehow it became a commodity. The senator's true colors have been revealed - an apologist for the wealthy disguised as a free market advocate in a country where the free market is a fallacy.

Dec. 22 2010 11:41 AM
Andrea from Philadelphia

Ditto on Brian's use of "Obamacare." I couldn't believe it.

I resent the Senator's suggestion that "hard work" equals "financial success." And that people who work hard have no need of help/safety nets, etc. My Dad, a WWII vet who worked in a physically-demanding factory job for 35 years, lived frugally and saved for retirement, would not have been able to survive the last two decades of his life without public housing, social security, and medicare.

I also love that the Senator is partially blaming the citizens of Arizona for "tying" government's hands vis-a-vis spending their tax dollars. Maybe they'll wise up under his tenure as Pres of state senate and vote his ass out next time around.

Dec. 22 2010 11:38 AM

From this segment, I've discovered that I, as a US citizen (which is of course determined by my family wealth), have a personal responsibility to kill the poor.

Dec. 22 2010 11:35 AM
Katie from Huntington, NY

GREEDY, GREEDY, GREEDY. Give tax cuts to the ridiculously wealthy, but don't give medical treatment to the poor! And the people who don't pay taxes....IT'S BECAUSE THEY DON'T MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO BEGIN WITH!! What a creep.

Dec. 22 2010 11:33 AM
Edward from NJ

@Ishmael from NYC, let people call it ObamaCare. That way they'll have to keep calling it that when everyone loves it 10 years from now.

Dec. 22 2010 11:33 AM
licnyc from queens

We are very lucky to live in the US... until you get sick, then you are screwed. Nice reasoning. Somehow according to the senator, US is the only place in the world that has capitalism. Here is reality, US is the only country with a disastrous health care system.

Dec. 22 2010 11:33 AM
JDM12 from New Jersey

How does the senator reconcile the fact that taxes pay for the infrastructure and social fabric that allows for the capitalism he touts? At least he got the closest to what the position of his party reflects - that if you don't have the money to pay for health care, you don't deserve to live.

Oh, and since AZ is a donee state, if they object to federal spending give us New Jerseyans our money back.

Dec. 22 2010 11:33 AM
elaine from LI

I am going to need healthcare because I am going to have a stroke listening to this Senator. This is a pay your own way fair country? What about all the tax incentives for big business to keep them in certain locations? What about all the off-shore assets? What about all the lobbyists for big business? Shame on this country and shame on this Senator and all the people and politicians that think like him at the cost of the people of this country.

Dec. 22 2010 11:33 AM
ml from Inwood

I'm middle class and would prefer higher taxes for myself rather than live in a country that turns its back on those in need, or having my police protection cut back or fire houses closed. Surely, if I can afford higher taxes, what's wrong with the well-to-do that they don't care about our society? By the way, this guy needs to go back and study history. Ever hear of "provide for the common welfare?"

Dec. 22 2010 11:32 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

Is any Federal money used to bring water to Arizona's cities in the desert? I hope not, because the is picking my pocket for those irresponsible people to live in an environment that isn't suited to that population density.

Dec. 22 2010 11:32 AM
susy from manhattan

If I hear this guy say "handcuffs" one more time, I'm going to freak out.

Enough rhetoric - what are the FACTS?

Dec. 22 2010 11:32 AM
Unheard from NYC

This guy grew up in an era before the wealth was redistributed up to the rich. He's speaking like we live in an era of equivalent fairness and we simply don't.

Dec. 22 2010 11:32 AM
Kerry from Austin, TX

Is the Senator suggesting a work schedule of 20 hours/day 6 or 7 days a week is acceptable? Regulation exists (and was developed) to prevent this from happening.

Dec. 22 2010 11:32 AM
detour from bkny

"we're a free market economy... with the right to succeed.. without being taxed to death????"

I guess this republican doesn't remember the $3.3 trillion socializing of risk by our fiercely independent risk takers who tanked our economy.

Dec. 22 2010 11:30 AM

Senator -- Taking care of the sick and poor is not called Socialism, it's called Christian charity.

Dec. 22 2010 11:30 AM

who would want to live in az any way give it back to the mexicans!

Dec. 22 2010 11:27 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

Bobby G - Absolutely!

Dec. 22 2010 11:27 AM
David from Brooklyn

So if the federal government can't provide constraints, and the voters of AZ can't provide constraints, who exactly does Mr. Pearce think he's representing?

Dec. 22 2010 11:26 AM
Bobby G from East Village

The reason Medicaid and Medicare are so costly is that they exist to protect the profits of the private healthcare, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries.

Dec. 22 2010 11:22 AM
Ishmael from NYC


You just used (11:13am) )the word "ObamaCare" in referring to the health reform program, and not in reference to the concept, but as the normal, everyday term for the program.

Shame... we should know by now not to fall into the Republican's verbal traps. By accepting their "branding" via that word, you are buying into their framework for debate.

Dec. 22 2010 11:21 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

"ObamaCare"? Why are you using the lazy and ideological (not to mention inaccurate) label created by the craven Right, Brian?

You can do better.

Dec. 22 2010 11:20 AM

Brian doesn't need to identify him as a republican. He self-identified when he said that you don't need to go to a doctor if you need to use 'other people's stuff' in order to pay the doctor. All that's missing is that he suggest we pay the doctor with chickens....

Dec. 22 2010 11:20 AM
Shar in AZ from AZ (MS in the SW)

Mr. Pearce brought the AZ anti-immigration bill (anti-Mexican) too, which elected Ms. Brewer. They've increased sales taxes, cut public transportation, and want to eliminate Medicare. You decide which side they are on.

Dec. 22 2010 11:18 AM
Lauren from Brooklyn

What's wrong with Kansas? Please.

What's wrong with Arizona?

Perhaps this president-elect should ask himself whether the standard of his impoverished childhood without healthcare is the one that we should all be held to today.

By the way, there's no such thing as "unelecting" people. The portion of your constituency who did NOT elect you are, alas, "handcuffed" in that way.

Dec. 22 2010 11:18 AM
Marcy Thompson from Maplewood, New Jersey

Oh my ... this guy is nuts. And I thought Christie was an a**hole.

Dec. 22 2010 11:17 AM
Ed from Brooklyn

Who is this guy? I guess when bad things happen to people it must be because they displeased "God".

Never, and I mean NEVER, will I spend a penny in his backwards, selfish and draconian State. By the way, how much in Federal money does Arizona get back for money sent in? I hope it isn't one of those States that actually receives more. That would be hypocritical and, well, "socialist".

Dec. 22 2010 11:17 AM

If they block transplants of organs like livers, won't the state just end up paying for more expensive liver failure treatment later?

Dec. 22 2010 11:17 AM
Ken from Little Neck

Typical conservative BS - if you can't afford good health care, you don't deserve to live. Try coming back as a rich person if you want to make it to old age.

Dec. 22 2010 11:17 AM
David spends 2much time in AZ from Manhattan

For a guy who keeps talking about personal responsibility, Pearce is certainly passing the buck at every chance he gets.

And who quotes John Stossel and expects to be taken seriously? Plus, the fine senator feels the need to point out that he's not a socialist? He's a hack.

Isn't it funny how he doesn't think medicine should be a government program and then goes about making sure that it can't work?

Dec. 22 2010 11:17 AM
Ishmael from NYC


You just used (11:13am) )the word "ObamaCare" in referring to the health reform program, and not in reference to the concept, but as the normal, everyday term for the program.

Shame... we should know by now not to fall into the Republican's verbal traps. By accepting their "branding" via that word, you are buying into their framework for debate.

Dec. 22 2010 11:17 AM

What a redneck. Go back to Arizona.

Dec. 22 2010 11:16 AM
Megan from Brooklyn

I hate to hear people claiming that if we didn't have "accountability" (i.e. copays) people would abuse the system. I grew up in Canada with no copays and excellent health care. And now I live in NYC with a good insurance plan and presumably access to be best care and I cannot tell a difference, honestly. Copays are absolutely debilitating to low income families - I grew up with a single mom who worked her buns off. We had no copays, and if we had, there would certainly have been times when I would not have been able to go to the doctor when I needed to. As a kid with epilepsy. copays would have killed my mom's budget!

Universal health care is cheaper per capita, and is about as socialist as as a municipal police department paid for by taxes. It is also the fairest system for all.

Dec. 22 2010 11:15 AM
Carlos Gonzalez from North Bergen, NJ

We often hear that 'we cannot afford' certain aspects of medical care. Why is it that most other advanced industrialized nations can afford medical care for all, spend less than in the U.S., and get better public health results.

Is it that we cannot afford medical care? Or is it that others have figured out a better way to organize health care provision than the U.S. methods?

Dec. 22 2010 11:15 AM
oil monkey

Though decisions, tough decisions, tough decisions.....

Hmm, how about shrinking the military, shrinking subsidies to big business, raising taxes on the top 1% of the country who control 40% of the wealth? Ah, no, better to see the poor die.

Dec. 22 2010 11:14 AM
licnyc from queens

This guys says we don't have to go to the Drs, because he never did as a kid- this is the exact point that tells me everything coming from his mouth is total bunk.

Dec. 22 2010 11:14 AM

So the Republican state of Arizona accepted stimulus money?! How is that possible? John McCain & Co. opposed stimulus.

The Arizona politician Russell Pearce is being utterly two-faced. On what grounds does he accept stimulus funding? On what grounds does he claim that the sole cause of fiscal problems is spending when he refuses to raise taxes on the wealthiest?

Russell Pearce: pro-life, anti-government, anti-taxes, pro-spending (for the rich), anti-immigrant -- right-winger across the board. So how did he justify accepting stimulus money?

And why didn't Brian Lehrer identify him as a Republican?

Dec. 22 2010 11:13 AM

Libertarianism really will kill you.

Can we refer to legislation by its proper name? Referring to PPACA as "Obamacare" is really no way to advance reasonable discussion--same goes for EGTRRA and JGTRRA.

Dec. 22 2010 11:13 AM
Henry from Jersey City

"And this is before Obamacare is fully operational. Get used to the cutbacks, people, despite what our Dear Reader promised and promises.
But forget the transplants. The most pressing question is:
Are the taxpayer funded sex change operations going to be in any way affected?"

This is absurd. Republicans made these cuts.

Dec. 22 2010 11:13 AM
Sally from LES

Isn't this the same death panel Republicans fought against?

Part of the reason people show up at the ER is because they don't have access to real health care.

Dec. 22 2010 11:12 AM

Give us stats.
How many lists is Arizona at the bottom of?

Dec. 22 2010 11:11 AM

Please don't blame the stimulus. Where would Arizona be without the evil stimulus?

Dec. 22 2010 11:11 AM

but this is what the people voted for, don't raise my taxes !

Dec. 22 2010 11:03 AM
Longstreet from NYC area

And this is before Obamacare is fully operational. Get used to the cutbacks, people, despite what our Dear Reader promised and promises.
But forget the transplants. The most pressing question is:
Are the taxpayer funded sex change operations going to be in any way affected?

Dec. 22 2010 10:27 AM
gary from queens

The dirty little secret of the organ transplant industry is the problem of foreign protein rejection. Most people would be astonished to learn how short average life expectancies really are from organ transplant operations. example: "The Nasty Side of Organ Transplanting" - Norm Barber.

Tissue is essentially solidified blood, and published studies show a high incidence of hemolytic reactions from blood transfusions. Often quite serious, despite improvements in blood typing. Hospitals that have used blood alternatives---some as long as 30 years---don't experience the problem of foreign protein rejection (similar to organ transplanting), and have greater post-surgery survival rates.

An early departure from the media's favorable press, on at least the financial aspects of the business, was ''Inside the Billion-Dollar Business of Blood'' (March 1986 issue), written by Andrea Rock, a staff writer for Money, and reported by Martha Mader. The article had won Money Magazine the American Society of Magazine Editors' 1987 National Magazine Award for public service on April 22, 1987.

Andrea Rock had also departed from the gullible media mouth-pieces in another praise-worthy Money Magazine article: "The Lethal Dangers of the Billion-Dollar Vaccine Business" (December 1996). Yet another medical sacred cow.

Dec. 22 2010 10:11 AM

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