Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dashing the Hopes of the Poor

When my husband Herb was in the hospital during his kidney transplant surgery in early October, I reflected on the great good fortune our family was enjoying through the generosity of the donor's family and the excellent transplant program in which Herb was enrolled. As the days progressed and Herb recovered, I also reflected on how intense my involvement was, and needed to be, in order for him to recover fully from the transplant and sustain the health necessary to maintain the donor kidney's viability.

One of the things that struck me fully and forcefully between the eyes was the need for a recipient to have a functioning family support system. Without such a support system, a patient simply wouldn't even qualify to enter a transplant program. After all, donor organs are scarce commodities, and prudence requires careful stewardship of such organs. 

The ability to be a compliant recipient who adheres to all the medical regimen after the transplant is a necessary requirement. This is an important aspect of transplant surgeries over and above any issues of health insurance and ability to pay for the costly surgeries and even more costly anti-rejection immuno-suppresant medications for the rest of the recipient's life. 

In our case, because Herb is 71 and in the Medicare system, his surgery and medications are largely paid for through Medicare and his private Medicare gap insurance. (Incidentally, you'd be surprised at how big a reduction the physicians, hospitals and other care providers take as participants in the government-based Medicare program.)

I just read in AlterNet that the State of Arizona has cut payment for certain kinds of transplants for patients on Medicaid due to budget constraints. It chills my soul to hear of this. Talk about taking the hope of the poor away, not to mention condemning them to death merely for being poor. Lord, have mercy!

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