Stateline Story

Brewer Reconsiders Organ Transplants

As budget negotiations heat up in Arizona, a relatively small line item is attracting outsized attention: funding for liver, kidney and other organ transplants for about 100 low-income state residents.

The money was eliminated during budget negotiations in Phoenix last spring, prompting a national outcry over what amounted to a life-or-death decision for some Arizonans who were on waiting lists for new organs. The move went into effect last October.

Democrats have painted the action by the majority Republican Legislature as an unconscionable budget decision, and one local columnist, E.J. Montini of The Arizona Republic , has repeately taken state leaders to task in his columns. Montini refers to Republican Governor Jan Brewer as "Governor Grim Reaper" while blasting the Legislature as a "death panel," leading to complaints from elected officials.

Today (March 29), The Republic reports that Brewer appears to be open to the idea of reinstating funding for the organ transplants, but it is unclear how Republican lawmakers will react to the idea. The Senate has passed a new $8.1 billion spending plan that did not include money for the transplants; the House has yet to act.

"There is a possibility that that issue can be addressed," Brewer said in an interview with The Republic. "I would hope that there could be a solution, an agreeable solution. That doesn't mean that's going to happen, but we're working to find a solution."

If funding for the transplants is restored, The Republic notes, "it would mark a stunning reversal of position on the issue" for the governor, who has repeatedly rejected the transplants as something the state can no longer afford.