Surviving Hepatitis C in AZ Jails, State Prisons, and Federal Detention Centers.

Surviving Hepatitis C in AZ Jails, State Prisons, and Federal Detention Centers.
The "Hard Time" blogspot is a volunteer-run site for the political organization of people with Hepatitis C behind and beyond prison walls, their loved ones, and whomever cares to join us. We are neither legal nor medical professionals. Some of us may organize for support, but this site is primarily dedicated to education and activism; we are fighting for prevention, detection, treatment, and a cure for Hepatitis C, particularly down in the trenches where most people are dying - in prison or on the street... Join us.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oprah: Fight for Life in AZ.

This item below comes via Julie from a friend of hers. Here's the "suggestions" link for Oprah, and Linda's letter as an example of how to try to get her here and turn up the heat, so to speak.
The folks at Harpo Productions may not pay attention to just one of these, but I bet if a few along these lines reached them they'd start to notice (especially if they got some from children, with drawings and crayon).


Dear Miss Oprah,

I am writing to you on behalf of the 96 people in Arizona (2 have already deceased) who were originally approved for organ transplant operations under our State’s Medicaid program called AHCCCS (Access). In August 2010 the Governor, Jan Brewer, informed them all that due to budget constraints the State would no longer offer coverage for these life saving medical procedures.

Since August, our Governor has been presented with several different scenarios and ideas on how to balance the budget without cutting the organ transplant funding. To date she has refused to compromise in any way and says she is making “hard choices in tough economic times”.

I can simply no longer sit around and do nothing! Denying Medicaid patient’s organ transplants is a death sentence. These people do not have time on their side to “ride it out” through our budget crisis. Organ transplants are their ONLY option for living.

I am not asking you for a handout or to fund any transplant procedures. All I am asking is that you devote some time, in one of your shows, to bring national/global attention to the plight of these people in Arizona. I do believe that with enough public attention being drawn to this issue the Governor will be forced to restore the funding out of the sheer protest by the masses. Most Americans do not even realize what is happening in Arizona. Death panels are a reality in this state!

I respectfully request that you please give serious consideration to my request. I will ensure that you have access to the FACTS of this serious matter in AZ. I will also be able to introduce you to the patients who have been denied coverage so that you can personally hear their individual stories. I also have several State representatives who would to happy to discuss this issue with you.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Linda Gallie

Phoenix, Arizona

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dying to save Kavanagh $$$: AHCCCS Transplant Patients

Anyone out there from Fountain Hills who is not being accurately represented by John Kavanagh, please speak now. He will be wreaking havoc in our legislature this year, and you folks should rein him in before he hurts anyone else...


No to transplant funds House, Senate panel chairmen will not give proposals a hearing

by Mary K. Reinhart - Feb. 3, 2011
The Arizona Republic

Arizonans who lost coverage for lifesaving organ transplants had political winds at their backs last fall, with national media attention and a sympathetic key Republican lawmaker.

But Rep. John Kavanagh's support has evaporated, and there now appears little chance legislators will restore funding to return nearly 100 people to waiting lists for heart, liver, bone-marrow and lung transplants.

"I've kind of lost hope," said Randy Shepherd, a Mesa father of three who needs a heart transplant. "I don't know how long we can bang our fists on the wall and continue to be ignored before we decide to be quiet and go away."

Last spring, lawmakers made sweeping cuts to the state's health-care program for the indigent to help bridge a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion, which amounted to nearly one-third of state revenues.

Kavanagh, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, said in November that he was concerned lawmakers had based their decision to deny coverage on flawed data provided by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid program. He said he planned to hold a hearing to consider newer statistics showing better patient outcomes.

Now, he says that the mortality data called into question by leading transplant physicians here and across the country look solid and that additional information provided by the same doctors failed to persuade him to reconsider.

"Almost everybody died," Kavanagh said of certain transplant patients during a budget hearing Wednesday. "That's powerful stuff statistically."

While AHCCCS data from 2006 to 2007 showed that 13 of 14 patients who received bone-marrow transplants from unrelated donors died within the first year, doctors provided broader statistics that showed nine of 19 transplant patients were still alive, a 47 percent survival rate similar to the national average.

"Why are we relying on incomplete, old data? What other business would do that?" said Rep. Anna Tovar, D-Phoenix, a transplant survivor who received bone marrow from her brother in 2001. "If we can't take care of our most critically ill Arizonans, then we aren't doing our job."

Democrats have introduced four transplant-related bills, and Tovar is introducing four more today, including a measure to provide private matching dollars from the New Life Foundation for state transplant funding.

Four have been assigned to appropriations panels and the other four are expected to be.

Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Andy Biggs both said Wednesday that they will not hear them, which effectively kills the bills.

"We're not doing the budget in pieces," said Biggs, R-Gilbert, adding that Gov. Jan Brewer's staff told him she won't consider legislation to restore transplant coverage.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson said the governor's position hasn't changed since the transplant cuts took effect Oct. 1.

"We don't have the money," he said. "And who's going to lose coverage to pay for it?"

Arizona and Brewer received national attention after Goodyear father Mark Price, a leukemia patient, came forward with his story. Price was denied coverage for a bone-marrow transplant and put a human face on Arizona's deep budget cuts. An anonymous donor came forward to pay for his transplant, but Price died Nov. 28.

The AHCCCS cuts, which included annual physicals, podiatry and emergency dental care, saved $5.3 million this fiscal year, but the state loses about $20 million in matching federal funds. The services are considered optional under Medicaid rules.

Brewer's budget for the coming fiscal year proposes eliminating 280,000 people from AHCCCS to help balance a $1.15 billion budget deficit. Brewer has asked federal health officials for permission to waive a requirement to maintain Medicaid eligibility.

Meanwhile, Biggs has introduced a bill to repeal AHCCCS, which would mean the loss of about $7.5 billion in federal funds.

Under Senate Bill 1519, the state's current $2.5 billion Medicaid contribution would be divided among services for people who need long-term care, those with serious mental illness and the developmentally disabled.