‘Governor Grim Reaper’ and her Brewercare ‘death panels’

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Screenshot-6 Arizona Republic columnist E. J. Montini has dubbed Gov. Jan Brewer "Governor Grim Reaper." Yes, governor, we have a death panel:

Gov. Grim Reaper and the fallen angels of the Republican-controlled legislature do not like being called a death panel.

But that is what they are.

If elected officials make budget decisions that determine whether sick people live or die – and they choose the latter – they are a death panel.

If, in turn, Gov. Jan Brewer (with the blessing of those same dark angels) chooses to take an expensive trip to Washington, D.C., in order to attend a Supreme Court hearing at which she cannot speak and during which the state's lawyers defend an employer sanctions law that has been completely ineffective – and she does this rather than call a special session to address the needs of seriously ill citizens – then, yes, death panel is the appropriate description.

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This is an easy call, though it illustrates a joke sent to me recently by a man who has worked for a long time at the State Capitol. It goes:

Question: How is Arizona like Oz?

Answer: It's the story of a naïve female traveler being lead through dangerous territory by people with no brains, no heart and no courage.

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I've heard back from a number of people who support the governor's position… To them I might suggest something sent in by reader “bobunf.” It is an excerpt from “The Great Law; Or, The Body of Laws of the Province of Pennsylvania…” passed by William Penn and an assembly of our earliest settlers in December, 1682. There are 69 sections to the Great Law. One of them reads:

"That if any person shall fall into Decay and poverty, and not be able to maintain themselves and children, with their honest Endeavors, or shall die and leave poor orphans, That upon complaint to the next Justices of the Peace of the same County, the said Justices, finding the complaint to be true, shall make provision for them that then care shall be taken for their comfortable subsistence."

You can't get more American than that.

The editors of the Arizona Republic in an editorial opinion on Thursday called on "Governor Grim Reaper" to call a special session and to fund the organ transplant care patients list. Restore coverage for patients who need transplants:

Surely there's a limit. There must be a line this state won't cross.

Is Arizona really going to refuse life-saving organ transplants to save money?

No.

This decision can't stand. Nearly 100 desperately ill Arizonans are on the waiting list for transplants that are no longer funded by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. The money was cut off to balance the budget.

Arizona's finances are in dreadful shape, and the skyrocketing costs of AHCCCS, our version of Medicaid, are contributing to the shortfall. But ending these transplants is expected to save just $1.36 million a year (federal matching funds pay the lion's share), while Arizona faces a hole of $825 million this year and $1.4 billion next year.

This cut, which does so little to balance the budget, is outside the bounds of humanity. Eliminating the funding amounts to a death sentence for patients like Tiffany Tate.

[T]he only place to cut spending, she says, is in Medicaid services that are optional under federal law, such as transplants.

Brewer won't look at the small sum needed for transplant funding unless it's part of a $1 billion solution to close gaps in AHCCCS funding.

That's just wrong.

Patients with life-threatening conditions are being held hostage in a larger battle over health-care mandates.

Time is running out for them. Brewer and legislators have let this issue drag on far too long. Arizona is getting national media coverage as a place with "death panels."

Show our state's true compassion. Restore transplant coverage, bring back hope.

On cue, "Governor Grim Reaper" again claimed a regular segment now on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Thursday night.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

(Excerpt):

In our third story, the governor continues to refuse to [call a special session]. Not only that, it's not clear if she is aware of the conditions afflicting the people she's condemning. Either that or she's lying about them.

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The governor has ignored multiple suggestions for finding an estimated $5 million dollars which would restore these people to the state's donor list. The state has $30 million in unspent federal stimulus money on hand that Brewer's office says is untouchable because it has already been allocated. The governor refuses to say where.

Instead, Governor Brewer insists these organ transplants are optional and a luxury the state can't afford, like a Cadillac.

(VIDEO)

GOV. BREWER: Its part of the Cadillac program that Arizona has, even to the point where some of your personal insurance, your private insurance, don't cover some of those kind of procedures. A lot of transplants are still being provided in the state of Arizona.

REPORTER: By the state of Arizona or privately?

GOV. BREWER: By the state of Arizona. We still provide, even with the cuts, heart transplants, liver transplants, kidney transplants, pancreas and kidney transplants.

(END)

The state is absolutely not providing a liver transplant to Francisco Felix or a heart transplant to Randy Shephard. Both of whom have appeared on this broadcast with their families last month.

E.J. Montini writes in his column Friday that these organ transplant care patients are Pawns in a death panel's chess game:

They're not political pawns; they're sick people being used as pawns.

And that is sick.

Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican-controlled legislature say that it's all about the huge budget deficits facing the state, $825 million this year and $1.4 billion next.

The governor says that she won't consider restoring transplant services to the seriously ill patients previously covered under the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System until the black hole in the budget is plugged.

That's not an answer, it's a ploy. It's a political chess move with dying people as pawns.

The governor's death panel will save roughly $1.4 million this year by cutting transplant services. That's $1.4 million in an overall budget of roughly $9 BILLION.

To suggest that we need to kill people because we can't find $1.4 million to cut from a $9 billion budget is not only cruel, it's insulting.

But then, this is not a new game.

Some members of the legislature have been trying to eliminate aspects of the AHCCCS transplant coverage for years.

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The argument demonstrated a lack of both humanity and math skills.

The seriously ill people who are cut off from transplant lists, or who don't qualify, don't simply go away. They stay here. And if they wind up indigent, as many do, we pay for their care.

Governor Grim Reaper, just fix this mess you have created and call a special session to fund the organ transplant care patient list. Use the unspent federal stimulus money at your discretion to "bail out" your reputation. For the love of God, show some humanity and compassion.

h/t Countdown with Keith Olbermann for the graphic

UPDATE: Earlier this year Gov. Brewer and the GOP-dominated legislature tried to kick 310,000 patients off of AHCCCS and end Arizona's participation in SCHIP, KidsCare in Arizona. They had to reverse their decision because of the maintenance of effort requirements in the Affordable Care Act.

But Governor Grim Reaper is back at it again, requesting a "waiver" from the maintenance of effort requirements to allow Arizona to kick people off of AHCCCS. Brewer also is taking two other approaches to seek relief from the health-care overhaul's mandates. One is to ask Congress to change the federal law; the other is participation in a multistate lawsuit challenging the overhaul. Brewer seeking feds' OK to cut AHCCCS rolls.

Brewer is the face of right-wing ideological extremism. Brewer likes to pontificate that we are "a nation of laws" until she doesn't like the law: Proposition 204 which expanded AHCCCS coverage, and the federal Affordable Care Act. Then she believes in frivolous "junk lawsuits" to challenge laws with which she disagrees. It is a right-wing lawyers full employment program at taxpayer expense.

A bill to restore funding for medical transplants dropped by Arizona's Medicaid program is the first piece of legislation introduced for the 2011 legislative session. It was pre-filed Thursday by the newly elected leader of Senate Democrats – current Rep. David Schapira of Tempe – would restore transplant coverage with an appropriation of $1.2 million of state money and permission to spend $3 million of federal matching dollars. ARIZONA Briefs.

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