Sick Tucson man appeals to Gov. Brewer to restore funding for transplants

Sick Tucson man appeals to Gov. Brewer to restore funding for transplants

CREATED Jun 30, 2011

Reporter: Claire Doan

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – For one Tucson man, the state's budget problems have become a matter of life or death – and he's appealing to Arizona's top lawmaker for help.

David Hernandez, father of five, is suffering from a terminal lung disease and is on the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's Medicaid program.

Citing budget woes, Arizona cut funding for medical transplants starting October, leaving more than 100 Arizonans who need life-saving surgeries in need of help.

Doctors say without a double-lung transplant, 48-year-old Hernandez only has two more years left to live. But now the biggest problem for Hernandez is finding funding.

"Governor Brewer is letting the business and the money roll before thinking about human life," Hernandez said. "It's not fair. [The state] could do it right now if they wanted to. Pointing fingers at the federal government to get more money is just a copout to me."

Paul Senseman, Brewer's spokesperson, told KGUN9 News that criticism about Medicaid should be directed at the federal government, and that Arizona's dire budget situation is a result of the top-down health care mandates from Washington bureaucrats.

"What you're seeing now – these kinds of budget deficits and difficult decisions – are clearly results of this federally designed program," Senseman said. "It's not sustainable. It doesn't work and it's already beginning to have terrible ramifications."

Hernandez hopes Governor Brewer will limit those ramifications by restoring the projected $1.4 million in funding needed to cover medical transplants in the state, because he believes she can shift money from less pressing priorities. Meanwhile, he's also trying to get donations for his surgery.

Hernandez said if he had the opportunity to sit down with the governor, he would ask her the following question: "If this is somebody in your family, could you look them in the eye and tell them, ‘Sorry, we can't give you that transplant.'?"

Last week Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords sent a letter strongly urging the Governor to reconsider funding for transplants, saying, "This decision amounts to a death sentence for Mr. Hernandez."

Senseman said he has yet to see a Democrat come up a real, viable solution to help alleviate the budget and sustain the program.    

To make a donation to Hernandez, click on this link.