Regular EmpowHER readers know that I was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia about one year ago, and live in the state of Arizona. I'm currently responding well to treatment, but am well aware that if I should develop certain complications the only thing that would save my life would be a stem cell transplant, which carries a minimum $300,000 pricetag, involves extremely painful procedures and carries a 20 percent risk of death and other risks.
Under the current healthcare system in our country I am not eligible for insurance due to my pre-existing condition of cancer. The only way I could get a transplant would be through the Medicaid system. Arizona politicians, however, implemented cuts to the state Medicaid program yesterday that mean transplants for me, and for many other patients are no longer available. In essence they have decided that we will die in order to cut $5 million from the state budget.
While I am fine as of this writing, others are not. For example, leukemia patient Mark Price has just learned that matches have been found for a needed transplant but now he no longer can get the procedure. http://www.azfamily.com/news/local/AHCCCS-changes-preventing-man-dying-of-Leukemia-to-get-transplant-104190994.html
In response to questions from reporters, the Governor of Arizona said: "We have a responsibility as policy makers to make hard decisions and those decisions have to be made for the citizens of Arizona. We have a Constitution to live up to and certainly we're going to do that as we move through the process." The "process" she refers to now has a father of six facing death. http://ktar.com/category/local-news-articles/20100930/AHCCCS-cuts-leave-father-of-six-facing-death/
This man's story is not an isolated incident. There are countless other stories involving both children and adults. There are also other types of procedures that are no longer covered in Arizona and these changes have started impacting the quality of life of current Medicaid patients and/or will result in the need for more expensive medical procedures down the road to correct the problems caused by the lack of access to basic care in the first place.
I have been blessed by the good wishes and support of hundreds of people in my journey with leukemia. I've found that most people have been shocked by the price of cancer care and the impact that it has on individual lives, with or without private insurance. I've found that most people understand that any single one of us can get into a health crisis that may call for extraordinary measures, such as a bone marrow transplant, to save our lives, and they've seen this as something that we, as a collective community, will help pay for. I have never, ever, had anyone say to me that I should just be prepared to die and give up on life because I have leukemia. Until now.
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