GOP AZ Gov Brewer, Legislature Kill Transplant Funding for Uninsured – Republicans’ ‘Death Panel’ Selects Who Will Die Based on Income

Faced with the need to cut government budgets, Republicans reflexively start with programs for the poor, the ill, the elderly and children. In Arizona last year, the state’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer — best remembered for pushing the state’s “papers please” anti-immigrant law and then getting caught lying when she asserted that the Arizona deserts were littered with headless bodies — and the GOP state legislature chose to cut a $5 million state program that provided transplants for uninsured Arizonans.

Arizona Gov. Brewer and the GOP legislature used $1.7 million in Stimulus money just last year to repair the roof of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

These Republicans could have covered the shortfall by directing funding from the Stimulus for this life-saving program, but chose instead to spend over $1 million in Stim money to repair the roof of a sports stadium. What’s worse, had they applied the Stim money to save the transplant program for the uninsured, the state would have been eligible for an additional $15 million in matching funds from the federal government.

During the debate over health care reform, insurance company lackeys like Betsy McCaughey and Sarah Palin floated the lie that a beneficial aspect of the legislation — its coverage of the costs of living wills and end-of-life counseling — was something evil: a “death panel” of bureaucrats who would decide whether patients were too ill or elderly to receive certain procedures, even if the procedures might save the patients’ lives.

The GOP’s Fox channel promoted the death panel allegation so heavily that a poll during the debate found that about three-quarters of Fox viewers believed the lie to be true. Faced with the outrage ginned up by the Republicans’ pernicious lying, Democrats removed coverage of end-of-life counseling from the law.

While this represented only a small victory for the giant private health-care corporations, whose multi-billion dollar annual profits were left untouched, it was a big defeat for middle-class and poor Americans who will continue to have to pay out of pocket for counseling during what it arguably the most difficult time in anyone’s life.

But the McCaughey-Palin-Fox death claim was a lie — those death panels were not real. What the Republicans in Arizona have done is real — and it is eerily the same thing they falsely accused Democrats of doing: letting government bureaucrats choose whom should live or die. And, tellingly, the criteria of the GOP death panels is typically Republican: Income level. People in need of transplants who are ineligible to buy private insurance or who can’t afford it, will not be covered.

Because of the GOP death panel law, about 100 people in need of transplants are facing death today in Arizona. In the video above, Keith Olbermann interviewed two of them, both fathers of young children.

Rough transcript from MSNBC, with some corrections:



That was an error, if I said that.

— Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), disowning her June 27 claim on Phoenix television station KPNX that, “Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded.” Brewer used the graphic and false assertion to bolster her position that Arizona should usurp federal powers and make its own laws concerning immigration policy and enforcement.