State defends funding cuts for certain transplants
by Associated Press
PHOENIX -- State Rep. John Kavanagh says new information has not convinced him that certain organ transplants -- for which Arizona's health care system has stopped paying -- have a good success rate.
Lawmakers and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System have come under fire for removing some transplants from coverage under AHCCCS.
"As it stands right now, we dropped them because the success rates were very small and those rates still appear to be very small," Kavanagh, a Republican from Fountain Hills, told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Jay Lawrence.
Medical groups, including the American Society of Transplantation, oppose the AHCCCS budget cuts, but Kavanagh said data -- for AHCCCS patients alone -- shows some transplants don't work.
"As the new data came in -- and it didn't deliver what was promised from the transplant community -- I, too, began to say, `Hey, these things just don't seem to work.'"
Officials said cutting transplant funding saved the state $1.5 million -- that the remaining $5 million spent on transplants came from the federal government.
AHCCCS Director Tom Betlach told 3TV that, of 14 AHCCCS patients who received bone marrow transplants from unrelated donors, all but one died within six months. He said lawmakers and Gov. Jan Brewer made a tough decision in cutting funding for certain transplants.
"These economic times are resulting in policy makers and agencies having to make bad decisions instead of worse decisions, and that's really where we're at."
Betlach asked, "What is more appropriate? Is it more appropriate to spend $5 million on 15 transplants that may not have a great success rates instead of covering 2,700 kids?"