It’s gratifying to see New York Times reporters and columnists pick up the story of Arizona’s disgraceful Medicaid policies towards transplant patients. We’ve rightly hammered Arizona Republicans on this site for their death panel policies–policies which are linked with actual deaths and with at-best horribly callous treatment of very sick or dying patients.
One angle has not received sufficient attention. Many transplant patients profiled in these news stories have been deemed eligible for federal disability benefits. Yet they are stuck in the required waiting period to become eligible for Medicare. This issue reflects a complicated policy debate that has been invisible to all but a tiny fraction of the American public. Incidentally, issues such as this one illustrate why arcane policy details really matter for real people, and thus why complaints that the Affordable Care Act ran over 2,000 pages were so juvenile when there is such a need to get these details right.
Congress should modify Medicare’s terrible waiting period policies, particularly for patients who lack access to private coverage. Such policies were always problematic. These policies are particularly unjustified after the passage of health reform.
Arizona richly deserves the bad publicity it is getting. The federal government, too, could do much better.