(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Two Arizona Medicaid recipients denied potentially life-saving organ transplants have died, even as Arizona doctors, transplant survivors and some lawmakers push to restore health care benefits that were slashed last fall.
On Oct. 1, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System stopped paying for seven types of transplants that the state's GOP governor, Jan Brewer, and GOP-led legislature said they could no longer afford. The state faces a projected $1 billion program deficit by July 2011.
They eliminated heart transplants for non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, lung transplants, pancreatic transplants, some bone marrow transplants, and liver transplants for patients infected with hepatitis C. Arizona also restricted coverage of prosthetics, eliminated podiatric services, preventive dental services, and wellness and physical exams for adult Medicaid enrollees.
A former University of Arizona Medical Center patient waiting for a new liver died on Dec. 28 -- the second person to die since the cuts went into effect, according to Dr. Rainer Gruessner, chairman of surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson.
On Thursday, surgery department spokeswoman Jo Marie Gellerman confirmed that the patient, who died at another facility, "was our patient. He was on our list." She declined to identify the patient, citing medical confidentiality.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio