Arizona's Republican-led state government just decided to cut their state budget by slashing their state's Medicaid coverage for organ transplants, even though Arizona has plenty of money to fund these life-saving medical procedures.
That's right--Arizona has plenty of money to fund these life-saving procedures, despite what the politicians in the state claim. They just have warped priorities. We know this because the state's politicians have been outspoken supporters of the costly, useless Afghanistan War that costs Arizona taxpayers many hundred times what these transplant procedures cost the state.
Taxpayers in State of Arizona will pay $1.6 billion for proposed Afghanistan war spending in fiscal 2011, more than 355 times the Arizona transplant cut. If the war were ended and the troops brought home, Arizona could comfortably absorb the cost of providing help to those who will die without these medical procedures. Yet, Arizona Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain, both Republicans, are outspoken supporters of the costly, futile Afghanistan War.
Let's be clear about what the senators' support for taking money out of their state to fund the Afghanistan War means for their constituents. It means that one hundred people on the transplant list are screwed. Many of them will die, and soon. For example, Randy Shepard, plumber and father of three, needs a heart transplant, but the state's about to tell his daughters, "Too bad, we can't afford to save your daddy's life."
The thing is, if Randy Shepard were to walk into a military recruiter's office and join the Army, Senators Kyl and McCain would be more than willing to spend $1 million per year to send him to fight and die in Afghanistan. Arizona's politicians will spend millions to take him away from his kids, but nothing to keep him with them.
What could kill Randy Shepard isn't a lack of funds in his state. What could kill him is the warped priorities of the politicians that supposedly represent him and his fellow Arizonans at the state and federal level.
There's a set of black panels in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. that hold the names of every troop that died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here's a modest proposal: add to the wall every name of every Arizonan who dies for lack of a transplant that their state "couldn't afford" while their government was wasting billions of dollars a week on a war that's not making us safer.