The Arizona 98 — The Full Story

Since October I’ve been leading a national Facebook campaign to save the lives of the 98 Arizonans who were promised, then denied Medicaid coverage for organ transplants by the legislature and governor Jan Brewer. They are only on Medicaid because their conditions have made them too sick to work and too weak to raise the money needed to save their lives. They are powerless, helpless people for whom the Governor has absolutely no compassion. She has not offered any words of sympathy, any support in helping to raise money or even to meet with them. She simply says, “We don’t have the money” and blames so-called Obamacare for the Arizona mess. But, the fact is that the Arizona legislature passed and she signed the bill BEFORE the Obama bill even passed congress.

That isn’t the only mischaracterization the Governor has made. She has received over $1 billion in federal stimulus funds, $30 million of which is discretionary; she can use it any way she wants to. She says all the money is spoken for, but she refuses to tell anyone what she will spend it on, she won’t even talk to the media. Strangely she found $2 million to study algae and another nearly $2 million to repair a roof. Voters even approved nearly $100 million for a spring training facility for the Chicago Cubs. By cutting the Medicaid funds that would have paid for these people’s transplants the state will save between $1.4 and $4.5 million out of a nearly $9 billion budget.

Governor Brewer has fudged on other issues as well. She says transplants don’t work, that they are optional. Well, I can testify that they work and so can thousands of other people. As to it being optional the only option for someone who needs a transplant is death. You cannot be certified to be listed for a transplant unless a physician who specializes in your particular illness convinces a hospital transplant committee that you will die unless you get a transplant. Brewer also says the state still covers liver transplants but that, too, is not true. They Don’t. One of the 98, Francisco Felix, was on the operating table being prepped for a liver transplant donated by a relative when the order came that the state wouldn’t pay for it. He was awakened, sent home and his relative’s liver was given to someone else. Can you think of anything more cruel?

Several well known, highly respected transplant experts have contacted the governor telling her that the information she used to make the decision was outdated, erroneous and incomplete but she has refused to acknowledge them and continues to use the same wrong information as she did just recently on Fox news with Greta Van Susterin.

The Arizona Legislature meets on January 10 to reconsider the action and while Republicans have an overwhelming majority some GOP leaders have suggested that perhaps they were wrong and should reverse their previous decision, so there is a good chance of reversal even though the Governor refuses to change her mind. That means that we must put pressure on the legislature to pass a veto-proof bill that will return the transplant coverage to the Arizona 98. All we are asking for is that the state honor its promise.

I would ask you to do these things.

1) Write to the Arizona Senate Majority leader and the Speaker of the House urging them to restore Medicaid transplant coverage (I have no names for these people because they will be selected when the session begins).

2) Get on Governor Brewer’s Facebook page and using logic and diplomacy, urge her to change her mind.

3) Join my Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI)!/group.php?gid=152655364765710 The more members we have the more clout we’ll have with elected officials and other decision makers, so far we have nearly 800 members.

4) Spread the word. Tell everyone you know about the tragedy unfolding in Arizona and ask them to take action by contacting elected officials but also by telling their friends through the use of social networks, blogs, email and whatever else they can think of. .

5) If the legislature doesn’t change its mind the 98 will still need transplants so I have started a fund drive, “Save the Arizona 98” through the highly respected National Transplant Assistance Fund (NTAF). If you go to you will find a link where you can purchase T-shirts and other products with the Save the Arizona 98 graphic on them. ALL profits will go to the NTAF and there are no administrative fees or expenses charged for our service. The Link also offers an opportunity to donate directly to NTAF and designate exactly who you want to help. When you enter the site you will see a large “Save The Arizona 98” sign. You have permission to download, distribute and use it in any way that will help save these lives.

Please help in this effort. Right now Arizona is the only state in the union that has denied organ transplants for Medicaid patients but other states aren’t far behind. We must send them a message that Americans won’t stand for letting our neighbors die.

If you believe in keeping promises, helping the sick, equal treatment under the law and preserving life, this cause is just right for you.

The only obligation any government has is to protect its people. It is in the U.S. Declaration of Independence and in the Preamble to the constitution. Will you help?

Thank you from the bottom of my donor’s heart.

Bob Aronson

Please comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at  And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors.  There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance.  If you convince one person to be a donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives.  Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Also…visit and join my Facebook site, ORGAN Transplant Initiative  OR — my Facebook home Page!/ . 

 The more members we get the greater our impact on increasing life saving organ donation


About Bob Aronson

Bob Aronson is a former journalist, a Minnesota Governor's Press Secretary and talk show host. For nearly a quarter of a century, he led the Aronson Partnership, a Minnesota-based communications consultancy that prepared corporate and government executives for crisis situations, regulatory testimony, media interviews and Presentations. Among his clients were all three U.S. Mayo Clinic locations, 3M, general Mills, CH2M Hill, the U.S. Department of Energy and scores more. In 2007 bob had a heart transplant after suffering from idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy for 12 years. Shortly after he got his new heart he founded the now 4,300 member Facebook support group, Organ Transplant Initiative. At the same time, he established the Bob's Newheart blog where he has posted nearly 300 columns on organ donation, transplantation and other health related issues. The Viewpoint blog was started in late 2016 and bears the name of the Radio Talk show Bob did from 1966 until 1974, when he resigned to become Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich first Press secretary. Bob and his artist wife Robin, live in Jacksonville, Florida with their two dogs, Reilly and Ziggy. Bob is also a woodworker and makes all of the furnishings for Robin's art festival booth. He also makes one of a kind jewelry or "memories" boxes that he donates to select transplant patients, caregivers, donor families and others who have somehow contributed to making life easier for the ill, the elderly and the less fortunate. Bob is in the final stages of editing two full-length novels that will be available on Kindle when ready for release sometime in early 2017. One is a sci fi novel about an amazing discovery near Roswell, New Mexico and you will be surprised to find it has nothing to do with the Roswell story everyone knows. It features a woman scientist who investigates impact craters for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Dr. Rita Sylvester and her female student intern. The other book is a political thriller that introduces a new hero to the genre, Fargo Dennison.

Posted on December 20, 2010, in Arizona 98 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I am the State Director for the Recall effort against Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. We are planning a candlelight vigil for those who would not receive transplants and die if the Governor isn’t recalled or her position reversed. We would love for you to be a guest speaker at one of these events. Please write or call me back (623)533-1544 with any helpful information. Thank you.

    – Bill Moran


  2. Bob,

    You are exactly right. Money should never get in the way of saving lives. Always, always choose life.


  3. Hey Sheepdog, I just left a comment on your blog. Go man go. in my drive to Save the Arizona 98 we have conservatives and liberals, athiests, agnostics, Christians, Jews, Muslims and a lot more working together to save lives. The sanctity of life should not be a political issue.


  4. Bob,

    We have 2 things in common : 1) I’m just shy of 4 years out from my heart transplant, and 2) we are both appalled at Gov. Brewer’s lack of respect for the sanctity of human life. I did an article on my blog with my take of the Arizona situation the other day. I hope you will check it out – Please keep up the good work.


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