Thursday, January 06, 2011

Whose life?

The news is telling us that a second person has died in Arizona after being denied an organ transplant. With a budget shortfall, the state cut $1.4 million from its transplant program. All I can think is - that much money and only two people died?

We all hate to put a dollar value on lives. But we do it all the time. If I had $1.4 million, I have some ideas about where we could save more lives.

If you want to keep the money in the United States, how about the Boston homeless shelter that had standing room only for 500 people seeking shelter from last week's snow? How about the people who sleep on the street because there is no room for them in existing shelters? Homeless people routinely die from exposure to the elements, violence, or illnesses they catch in overcrowded shelters with inadequate washing facilities.

Whose life do we value? Whose death do we read about in the news?


Martha said...

Thank you for posting this, Julia. I've spent a lot of time recently learning about and thinking about healthcare finance and healthcare quality. It's so complicated and I'm glad to read your thoughts.

It has always frustrated me how hard it is for people to get into public housing in Massachusetts. For there to be such a shortage of housing that the waitlist is 4ish years and such a lack of shelter spaces available that families are placed in motels for months (at great expense) before even getting into a shelter (possibly far from their home community) seems like such an inefficient system.

Miranda said...

Your post reminds me a bit of this:

(And if you don't already read the Good Intentions are Not Enough blog, I think you might enjoy it.)

Mary Harvest Kitchen said...

I'd like to imagine and build a world where this wasn't an either/or situation.

David said...

It's hard to imagine there won't be either/or situations. Maybe the situation can change so that those particular choices won't have to be tradeoffs-- but it's hard to see how we could do away with all similar tradeoffs.