FSSA working on temporary solution for transplant patients


Indiana's top Social Services agency is trying to stop the life-threatening fallout for a group of transplant patients put on hold due to changes in state Medicaid rules.

A spokesman from Family and Social Services told 13 Investigates late Thursday a solution is in the works, but could not provide any details.

13 Investigates has been reaching out throughout the day to agencies from here to Washington as time winds down for kidney transplant patients losing medicaid across the state.

"I was on the verge of death," explained Paulette Gardner as she took slow, deliberate steps through her Speedway neighborhood.

The path to healing for the 53-year old hasn't been easy. In 2001, she received a life-saving kidney transplant. In March 2010, that kidney failed.

"I took the best care of it that I could," she told 13 Investigates.

Gardner, who suffers from renal disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, has been on the national kidney transplant list ever since.

But weeks ago, she learned if a new kidney becomes available, she and others will be passed over, due to changes in Indiana's Medicaid rules.

"It hurt me. It really did," she said with tears rolling down her cheeks. "I don't see my health being good because every day it's changing, even though I do the things I'm supposed to do."

Gardner is losing her Medicaid coverage, the insurance that would cover costly transplant medications.

Transplant rules require two forms of insurance. Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration says Gardner gets $700 too much to qualify for Medicaid, so she was officially put on notice - her spot on the transplant list is on hold.

"It means that I will sit on the transplant list inactive, because if I can't find an insurance that I can afford," she said.

Paulette Gardner is not alone.

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, more than 1,300 Hoosiers are on the waiting list.

13 Investigates has learned hundreds of those transplant patients are in jeopardy too.

"Heard the governor was going to try to do something about it, not too hopeful on that," she admitted.

Time is running out.

The state has just two more working days to try to keep patients from being put on hold indefinitely June 1.

In a statement to 13 Investigates, a spokesman for FSSA said "the state is actively pursuing an immediate solution with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services...our intent is to maintain continuous coverage for those affected..."

"Waiting for a transplant, but to have to worry about all of this - your medicine, 'cause you've got to have it, it's just hard," Gardner told 13 Investigates.

Original Story: Transplant patients put on hold due to new Indiana Medicaid rules