A recent article in the Arizona Daily Star related the poignant stories of people who lost necessary medical care and support as a result of drastic cuts to state behavioral health services for Arizonans who need the services but do not qualify for AHCCCS (Medicaid). For example, one person, a young lawyer, lost her case manager and later attempted suicide.
Meanwhile, Arizona is once again in the national spotlight for its decision to eliminate coverage for certain organ transplants and other “optional” services, where life and death situations can hang in the balance. It’s unfortunate, says Governor Brewer, “but the bottom line is the state only has so much money to provide optional types of care.”
It is more than a little ironic that some of the same people who accused supporters of the new health reform law of creating “death panels” to deny medically necessary care are now in the position of impacting potential life and death decisions based solely on a budget and determination of relative benefits.
What are the “relative benefits” of life and death? Who decides, and who ought to pay when someone is unable to pay for medically necessary services themselves? There is no question we can’t provide everything to everybody all of the time, but there is also no question that budgets of cities, states and other public entities are a reflection of public values and priorities, and we have a choice what to support, where to cut, and where to find the resources we believe are vital to securing a future based on the principles of freedom, justice, compassion and responsibility.