Woman Denied Transplant Funding May Leave AZ After Being Told Life-Saving Procedure Is Not ‘Cost-Effective’

As ThinkProgress previously reported, at least two Arizonans have died because they were denied funding for organ transplants that they were promised following Medicaid budget cuts championed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R). The governor called the transplants “optional” and has ignored those who have proposed possible solutions that would fully fund the transplants without requiring any additional revenue.

Now, local station Fox 10 highlights the case of yet another victim of Brewer’s Medicaid cuts. Karen Brianin is a 63-year-old woman who suffers from Hepatisis C. She is in need of a liver transplant, and her doctors say that, without a transplant, she will die. She recently learned that AHCCCS, the state’s Medicaid system, has decided to turn down her request for funding, citing the fact that it does not believe funding her treatment to be “cost-effective.” She is considering leaving the state and moving to neighboring Colorado, where she believes she may “have a better chance at a life”:

A Mesa woman on AHCCCS who was denied a liver transplant says she’s going to leave the state to get the surgery she badly needs. Karen Brianin just turned 63. Doctors diagnosed her with cirrhosis of the liver.

“You try to stay positive but it’s hard sometimes,” she says. Doctors told her that without a new liver, she’s going to die. Brianin has Hepatitis C. She got a letter from AHCCCS saying the state won’t pay for a transplant because of her condition. She’s devastated.

Brianin is now selling everything she owns, including her mobile home. She plans to move to Colorado where she has friends, and maybe have a better chance at a life. Brianin hopes to get on the state’s health care program, and ultimately on their transplant list. She’d rather roll the dice in another state, than be at the mercy of lawmakers in Arizona.

Fox 10 interviewed Brianin about her circumstances. “Get diagnosed with something and you get a chance to save your life, and then you live somewhere, and they take it upon their self to just say you can’t have this, because we can’t afford it, and you’re not cost-effective — I don’t think that that’s right,” she told the station, choking up.


The station caught up with Gov. Brewer and asked her if she is considering ways to fund the transplants for the remaining 96 patients. She did not answer their question. Watch it:

As ThinkProgress has previously noted, Steven Daglas, an Illinois State GOP Committeman, has put together 26 possible funding solutions that would fully fund the transplants for the remaining patients without the need to raise any additional revenue. He has been writing to Brewer since last month and has yet to receive a response.