CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Two people have already died in Arizona and another 96 are waiting for a life-saving transplant they may no longer be able to afford after the state slashed money reserved for the procedures.
One lawmaker said Arizona is now home to "death panels." And those whose names were on the list, those who will surely die without a transplant, found themselves in a state of disbelief.
"It's a shock to me," said Randall Shepherd, who thought he would receive Medicaid funding for the heart transplant he needs.
"There's a bit of a personal loss and the realization that this could be me in time if something's not changed here," Shepherd said, referring to the two who have died. "Until I get a new heart, my life is in a holding pattern."
Shepherd, like many others outraged by the state decision to slash $1.2 million from the state's Medicaid funding, said he believes the cuts could have come from elsewhere. Nonetheless, he said he understands the reasoning behind the decision.
"It's obvious. If the state's broke, it is broke," he said. "I can kick and scream all I want, and if there's no money for a transplant, it is just not going to happen.
"I really feel bad for the governor, for the legislators, those who had to make this decision," he said. "I certainly wouldn't want to be in their shoes and making the call that results in somebody else living or dying."
Arizona's Senate Minority Leader-elect David Schapira, a Democrat from Tempe, said he will seek emergency restoration of Medicaid coverage for certain kinds of transplants.
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