PORTLAND, Ore. -- An 18-year-old woman with cystic fibrosis will get the double transplant she hopes will save her life. She has a millionaire businessman -- and not the state health plan -- to thank.
Mark Hemstreet, owner of Shilo Inns, will cover the costs -- about $200,000 -- for Brandy Stroeder to get new lungs and a new liver.
''He said, 'I'm guaranteeing this kid the surgery,''' David Rogoway, a spokesman for Hemstreet, said Thursday. ''He'll cover it, period.''
The landmark Oregon Health Plan, which extends Medicaid coverage to about 350,000 low-income state residents, has refused to pay, saying the double transplant is too experimental and too costly. The state did agree last week to pay for an evaluation to determine whether Stroeder is a good candidate for the procedure.
Without the double transplant, Stroeder is expected to die within two years. Hemstreet's offer lifted her spirits.
''That's pretty awesome,'' she said from her home in McMinnville.
Hemstreet initially proposed paying half the cost of the operation and having the state pick up the other half. He decided to guarantee full payment after the state declined to participate, Rogoway said.
''The state can give money to people with drug problems, pregnant mothers, and such, but this is a human life. Doctors say this could give her quality life for four more years. That's not worth something?'' he said.
A spokesman for Gov. John Kitzhaber, a medical doctor who created the Oregon Health Plan, called Hemstreet's offer ''a gracious one.''
But he also defended the health plan, which made Oregon the first state in the nation to combine state and federal funding to offer health care assistance to the poor.
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