Randy Shepherd is 36 and 6-foot-3, but he has to toss baseballs to his 3-year-old son, Nathan, while sitting in a lawn chair. Shepherd has cardiomyopathy; his heart muscle is deteriorating…..
You can hear the weakness in his voice, even though doctors implanted a pacemaker in 2008. They’ve told Shepherd that he needs a heart transplant to survive.
AHCCCS [Arizona Medicaid] was the only health insurance Shepherd could get because he had a pre-existing condition and, since he was forced to stop working in his plumbing business, little money. The agency authorized his transplant more than a year ago.
But as of Oct. 1, AHCCCS said it is unable to pay for Shepherd’s transplant. In fact, facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit, Arizona has cut out all state-funded lung transplants, some bone-marrow transplants and some heart transplants — including transplants for the condition Shepherd has.
Yesterday, KTAR reporter Bob McClay reports about another patient, Mark Price, whose transplant was apparently thwarted by the Arizona policy.
PHOENIX — A Valley man who took center stage in the debate over state budget cuts that stopped funding for certain transplants has died.
Mark Price, 37, had battled leukemia for about a year. He died at a Valley hospital Sunday from complications of chemotherapy treatment.
Price hoped for a bone marrow transplant, but was notified in September that the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System would not fund the $250,000 operation because it had stopped paying for certain transplants due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor came forward in October and offered to pay for the transplant. However, Price died before the procedure was done.
I have no idea whether Mr. Price’s bone marrow transplant was medically justified. It is possible that the low success rate and the accompanying traumas argue against this heroic procedure. I do know that Arizona’s decision to renege on its promise to pay for it as part of a policy initiative to cut public insurance budgets is appalling.
Except when I read
The family said Price was forced to allow his home to go into foreclosure as he struggled to deal with all the medical costs.
The term “appalling” seems inadequate.