Home / Culture and Society / Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Strips Medical Care From Poor; People Dying

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Strips Medical Care From Poor; People Dying

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A few days ago, governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) signed the Medicaid waiver request that could put medical care out of the reach of 300,000 people. Why that is news to anyone is surprising to me. Sure, the actual signing of the waiver is a little newsy, since Arizona rushed to make headlines by being the first state in the union to ask for it.  But we already knew Gov. Jan Brewer cares nothing about the poor people she has been elected to govern.  There is nothing new in that.

The real news happened November 28th, 2010, when 37-year-old Mark Price died because the state of Arizona refused to pay for his bone marrow transplant.  At the last minute, a private citizen offered to pay the $250K for the operation, but it was too little too late.  The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCS), basically a committee, had refused to pay for the bone marrow swap a month earlier, citing budget cuts.

Price reportedly begged Gov. Brewer for the funds to do the transplant and save his life.  There is no she even so much as batted an eyebrow with her resounding no.  Price would not be the first to die under the new Arizona austerity rules. Another patient died in June of 2010 because he too was not able to get a transplant.

Since the Arizona governor is unwilling to fund life-saving health care, why should we be surprised when Gov. Brewer boots hundreds of thousands of poor people out of the medical system for runny noses and the flu? In fact, after seeing how cold-blooded the Arizona ruling class is, expecting these elected officials to take a positive step towards social issues like health care or immigration reform is like whistling Dixie!

Meanwhile, during the lame duck session, U.S. Senate Republicans signed a “no vote pact,” refusing to vote on nearly all laws including the START Nuclear Missile Treaty until the Democrats caved in and gave the Republicans a massive unfunded tax cut. Perhaps the crowd in Paradise Valley with their million-dollar homes will spend their $139,000 tax cut wisely.  The U.S. Congress handed every single person who nets a million dollars in income that much!  Heck, it would only have taken the generosity of two millionaires to save Mark Price’s life!

Lest you think this is only a problem for the poor, beware. As the baby boomers come into their golden years they will face a host of unanticipated medical problems. For the unfortunate, after catastrophic medical expenses eat through the insurance, the state will require all of your savings. If you still want to receive life-saving treatment you will have to sell your cars and finally even your home. In the old days, after you had spent everything you had, the state would take care of you through Medicaid.  The message from the rich kids is, if you run out of money in Arizona today you are dead meat.

In the old days, legislators were expected to consider the needs of all people who lived in their jurisdictions. A new conservative class is making sure it takes care of the people who count. To them, money counts, campaign contributions count, influence counts. If you don’t qualify as one of the super-rich then you had better have fantastic insurance, because poor people don’t count.

Here is the real news.  Gov. Brewer and her pals are playing for keeps.  They will let poor people die without transplants instead of reallocating the money they are squandering defending SB 1070, the most vicious anti-immigrant law in history, which is costing millions to defend.  Chasing starving Mexicans through the desert and getting big headlines for lawmakers count more than the desperately poor citizens of the state of Arizona.  

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About Tim Paynter

  • No doubt all fiscal conservatives are standing firm behind the good guber, praising her for making the “hard decisions” necessary to bring government spending in line.

    Not too many years ago, this wouldn’t have been an issue. Transplants were unheard of. But now, the technology has developed to such a degree that many people who receive various organ transplants actually live extended and useful lives in relative normalcy. Hell, they might even once again become consumers and taxpayers.

    In the larger scheme of things, the money required for the transplants needed in Arizona is quite small. Chump change, one might say. Yet Brewer and her cohorts have chosen to make what amounts to a symbolic gesture of supposed fiscal responsibility and belt tightening.

    This “gesture” is costing people their lives! The people of Arizona are supposed to believe that there is nowhere else in the state’s budget that couldn’t have withstood some cuts in order to save a few people’s lives.

    Of course the message here is that if you commit the crime of being poor – or actually, and more accurately, commit the crime of not being rich, this is the ultimate price you must pay.

    Here’s a question. I pose this honestly not knowing the answer, but: Does the State of Arizona provide in any way any subsidies to its major league sports teams?

    Maybe those organizations and the players could contribute a few bucks to a fund to facilitate some of those transplants – you know, maybe put off havin’ your “ride” detailed, or something. How ’bout it folks?


  • Thanks for the comment! The second death was for lack of a bone marrow transplant, which is much less experimental than a heart of kidney transplant. I think you are on the right track, how about one of those major league helping out a bit, or better yet, fund our freedom campaign a few bucks! Thanks again, Tim

  • Out of curiosity, how do the draconian aspects of this compare with the two hundred and twenty-two ObamaCare waivers granted as of December 3 of last year by the administration — with no set standards for doing so apparently in place — to such entities as the International Brotherhood of Trade Unions Health and Welfare Fund – Local 713 (861 enrollees), Service Employees International Union Local 1 Cleveland Welfare Fund (522 enrollees), Teamsters Local 522 Welfare Fund Roofers Division (270 enrollees), the Texas Carpenters and Millwrights Health and Welfare Fund (4,729 enrolles) and 218 more and climbing, with a total as of December 3 of 1,507,418 enrollees? Many of such waivers were of course given to greedy, heartless corporations (but I repeat myself) rather than to benign union related entities. Does that matter?


  • Dan

    The man died from complications in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. He was notified of an anonymous doner on the same day his coverage was reduced. His death would have happened no matter who was paying for it.

  • Hey, is that a “Loughner Shot the Wrong Politician” joke on the horizon I see?

  • Dan,

    Got a link? I’m old and lazy and would prefer to take it easy.


  • The ‘anonymous donor’ of whom Dan speaks was a bone marrow donor (actually, two of them), not a financial one.

    Here’s a link, which may or may not be the one Dan’s information came from.

  • Leave it to Dan to treat us to news-breaking stories, pure and pristine as is his wont. Next, we must make the necessary connection to Obama care and private insurance. The working hypothesis must be that the poor man would have been eligible for the transplant under the private plan were it not for the health-care bureaucrats. We’re anxiously waiting for Dan to connect the dots – otherwise, what’s the point?

  • Roger, in my comment #3, I asked whether the ObamaCare insurance waivers were pertinent to the subject at hand. Perhaps they are, perhaps they are not. I have no idea whether “the poor man” had, or would have been eligible under, a private plan available from any of the 222 entities listed at the link. If you can shed any light on the subject and perhaps answer my question, please have at it.

    Please do have the courtesy to remember that there are at least two “Dans” commenting here occasionally; I am just one of them and I speak only for myself. No one else speaks for me.


  • Luigi Bastardo has nailed it. End of story.

  • I ought to have been clearer in my #8. I’m sorry. And I’m surely glad you still got your own tongue.

  • Clavos

    To all of you who are so incensed over this incident in Arizona: wait until Obamacare kicks in and starts rationing — the scale will jump from only one state to all fifty letting people die to save a buck.

    Welcome to the New World Order.

  • The jury over national health care is still out. What counts is, the state of Arizona is blowing millions of dollars chasing poor people and paying for Arpaio lawsuit settlements rather than sending sick people to the doctor. Pass comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) which seals the border and let’s move on. Until then, it is time for all people of conscience to escalate their peaceful protests against law makers who want to get their names in the papers and don’t really care what happens to you and me.

  • Well, at least Clavos is connecting the dots.

  • Welcome to the New World Order.

    Looks much the same as the old world order. Except those who thought the system was working for them, may discover they are no longer privileged.

  • It is a great link. Do I have a volunteer for a new researcher?

    As a suggestion, let’s leave the nasty remarks to the politicians. You all have some great points and I appreciate your comments!

    Arizona MedicAid Cuts Include Transplant Funding

  • Perhaps he would have qualified for a waiver. The point is, 300,000 people won’t qualify for waivers. Nor will they be able to get help when they need a doctor, unless they go the emergency room. Foolish decisions on the part of the state will cost it big bucks in the future, but who cares? Greedy politicians get their name in the paper while you and I pay the big bucks.

  • Clav – Doesn’t the current system effectively do the same thing? We KNOW that large #s of people cannot get adequate health care of any kind the way things are now. What you are prediction is just that – a prediction. It may or may not come to pass. Your presumption is not fact. The FACT is that millions of people are left out of the system today, and that the people on the transplant list in Arizona are likely facing death or at best prolonged suffering and doubt.


  • Dan

    He had both a bone marrow doner and a financial doner. That is why he died in preparation for a transplant. He was getting his transplant.

  • And this changes things how?

  • Great comments all of you. Whether or not Mr. Price would have lived or died, someone is going to die because a selfish class of people demand more and share nothing. The greater point is, these people do not care about any of us, only their power, their money and their ego. Booting 300,000 people off of health care is a national disgrace and a wicked waste of hospital dollars.

  • Ruvy

    Rah Rah Capitalism! Go, Free Enterprise! Yay, Rich People! Bah, poor people!

    Another great story of justice and equity from the land of the formerly free and no longer brave….

  • Go Ruvy, go. And might I add, fuck the poor too cause I am getting sick and tired of all this obnoxious and despicable demagoguery from the usual commie-lib/simp, commie bastard suspects who claim sole monopolistic compassion for the poor, but whose actual policies, programs and actions do far more evil to the poor than good. So fuck them phony and factitious commie-lib/simp etc., etc., ad nauseam (EEAN) bastards too. Fuck them both.

  • GrannyDebs

    @Mr. Cohen: Very impressed with your command of the language, but a little unclear as to which ‘actual policies, programs and actions’ you refer. Love it if you might take a minute to clarify.
    Tim: Well written. Compassionate in a way that could get some of the staunch conservative followers to stop and think. Most will indeed develop some medical condition over time, and all but the very wealthy will feel the economic consequences – on top of the suffering caused by the condition itself.

  • I do not understand why people who have financial good fortune are so happy others are poor. It is not that they are happy for what they have, they are exhuberant for what others lack. Perhaps that is because the money is all they have…notions of spirtuality, being useful, helping others are lost on some who have been cursed with wealth.

  • Boeke

    I consider Irv a tiresome dolt and have no good words for him. IMO he disguises his lack of thought and logic with a patina of glibness, but even that thin patina is borrowed from someone else’s vernacular. A good measure of his paucity of thought and his plagiarism is his repeated allusions to “Kumbaya”, which was, as near as I can tell, first parodied about 1948 by some rightist and which has been reduced to rightist gibberish by overuse ever since. The last time it was amusing was about 1955. I know NO leftist who refers to Kumbaya, so there is no sting in the parody.

    His incoherent ramblings plug up the white space on BlogCritics and require the discerning reader to skip over his posts as mere noise.

  • Dear most esteemed comrade [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor] Mr. Burkah,

    Yes, I must agree with you on everything, I really am a terrible, terrible, terrible person. But glib? Isn’t that sort of a compliment? [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • Dear comrade-ette GrannyDebs,

    Well at least you got the preposition “to” in front of the relative pronoun instead of dangling it at the end of the non-restrictive clause. Nice goin’ there Granny.

    Oh, BTW, you forgot to throw in the lame, halt and blind in addition to all the women and children and minorities who will suffer much more disproportionally than the evil white males, particularly Christians over the age of 21.

  • James Bond

    People have been dying here in Arizona for nearly 2 years, so many from simple things like treatable infections. All insurance companies are allowed to get away with murder and doctors are fleeing after too long not getting paid. Transplants are just a tiny piece of the issue here, try calling your insurance and never getting an answer for 6 months. Arizona is death scam, big time, Big money!

  • Boeke

    The irony is that rejecting fed funds, as these posturing politicians are wont to do, doesn’t actually reduce federal expenditures and subsequent taxes. The money is simply re-deployed to the participating states. California, for example, was recently the beneficiary of some $1.2billion because of those glamorous eye-catching poses by state politicians (Wisconsin and Wyoming, IIRC, were mentioned).

    Keep it up, dodo heads. The more you stand on your (dubious) principles the better it is for the other states. It’s too bad about the residents of YOUR states, but then, if you don’t care why should anyone else?

  • bp

    What goes around comes around jan the ashes are on the way!