I found a report on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Web site that told me what I suspected all along: Tort reform doesn't being down medical costs; it just covers the insurance companies' gigantic butts.
Before Mike died, he asked me not to sue anyone over the awful treatment he got. He wanted me to do positive things, not use my energy on a years-long process that would do nothing positive.
But Danny wanted to look into it, so he called a couple of attorneys. Tort reform had placed a value of $350,000 on the life of my son, and the attorney's fees would come to more than it was worth to sue. Danny thought about looking for a lawyer who would sue on principle, but then thought better of it.
Still, the truth was there: Insurance companies want tort reform so that the worth of a human life could be capped and they could make more money.
It's not about the doctors -- they're still paying the same rates for medical malpractice insurance.
The insurance companies are making out like bandits and people are dying at the rate of 30,000 a year.
President Obama talks about the high cost of health care in terms of dollars and maybe that's what will move Americans and Congress to finally act.
But the cost is in human lives. I can tell you all about that. 
For awhile there, it looked like Life o' Mike's mission might be accomplished in the coming year.

Not that I really believed that, mind you. The insurance industry is going to fight really hard to keep things the way they are. It doesn't matter how many people suffer and die, as long as they make their obscene profits.

Now we have another front in the war.

A group of  "moderate" Democrats in the Senate want to make sure we pay as we go in any new programs, including health care reform. We can't pay as we go right now. So, does that mean another 30,000 people will die this year and another 30,000 next year?

It's a lot more expensive NOT to take care of people.

There's Danny's friend, whose mother couldn't afford diabetes supplies, so she hoped she could manage it. She's in a nursing home now, totally disabled by a stroke. That's about $90,000 a year as opposed to less than $10,000 to get her the supplies she needed to remain a contributing member of society.

Multiply that by -- I don't even know.

And what kind of price tag should we put on the lives that ended in the last year?

What was Mike worth?

I went into debt to take care of him, but these senators say we can't go into debt to prevent what happened to him.

We can get through to them with real stories of real people. We have to put faces on this issue.

We can't just hope something good will happen; we can't just trust that it will. We have to step up and fight.

I'm as upset as anyone about AIG and the abject greed there. I have to say, though, the company isn't acting in a vacuum. For early 30 years, we have  reduced regulation, all the while believing big business will do the right thing if left to its own devices.

As a teenage hippie in the late 1960s, I knew better than that. Powerful, wealthy people and businesses don't behave unless you make them -- just like the schoolyard bullies I knew in the early '60s. That's not so much wisdom as it is observation, and I had it figured out by the sixth grade.

Now all this money is as good as flushed down the toilet and it hasn't done any good for anyone who needs it. Think of how many colonoscopies, mammograms, dibetes supplies and high blood pressure medications that could have paid for. You could have saved a few thousand of those 30,000 lives that will be lost this year.

What a freakin' waste.

Then comes news that the Obama Administration wants to save money by requiring wounded soldiers to use their own private insurance if they have it to get treatment for their war wounds. That would mean you get shot up halfway around the world and then come home and worry about your copays and deductible.

As Jon Stewart said on the Daily Show tonigbt, "That CAN"T be right!"

It's an idea that needs to die quicker than squashed bug.

Every injury of every soldier needs to be covered fully by the government that put these people in harm's way. That's our moral obligatiion. Not one of them should have to lay out a single penny for care.

Shame on anyone who thinks otherwise.

An Associated Press story today said the nation's fragile health care safety net is unraveling. 

Like I wasn't expecting that.

With more people unemployed and more people in financial trouble, fewer people are ale to pay for care. One survey of 1,200 doctors found that 88 percent of them have treated patients that had been turned down elsewhere.

Another study published by Families USA found that 87 million Americans have been without health insurance in the last year. It's not just the 47 million now. And in May, when the new figures come out, it's going to be even worse.

There isn't enough charity care to go around anymore  This is scary for a whole lot more people.

I met with a community organizer from Consumers Union today. They're the people who put out Consumer Reports, and they're working toward health care for all Americans.

One thing he told me is that we're in for a tough fight. The health insurance companies don't want to give up the scam they have now -- unfettered greed and a tight control over who gets into the health care system.

So much of reform rests on defeating this powerful, wealthy group. They have billions to spend to keep things the way they are. They will use lies and half-truths, Harry and Loiuse and more to try and convince Americans the government has no place in health care.

Well, 40-plus years ago, Medicare was considered socialized medicine and now it's the most popular government program there is. The free-market system has failed us. It is not the solution.

The Obama plan will not leave you waiting months for vital care; that's how it is in the current system.

What the current Obama plan does is force private companies to compete with a government-administered system. They will be regulated.

And we'll have the choice between private and government plans. If the private insurance plan says you can't have chemotherapy for your cancer, the government plan likely will let you have it. If the government plan says you don't need a knee replacement yet, a private plan migh pay for it.

You choose.

This is not socialized medicine -- it's forcing the private companies to do what they should be doing.

Carolyn Comeau will be able to get insurance coverage at a reasonable cost. So will millions of other people.

Right now, 45 million people don't have insurance, according to the official numbers. New numbers will come out in May, and they'll be a good deal higher.

During the last year, more than 80 million Americans were without insurance at some point. One in four Americans has trouble paying for medical expenses, and every day,thousands more families face bankruptcy because of medical expenses. Every year, 30,000 people because they can't get care. It's time for us to take the health care system back from the robber barons

If you want to help, e-mail lifeomike@gmail.com, and we'll help you get in touch with your legislator and help you work out what you need to ask and learn what answers mean little or nothing. Together, we can defeat the special interests and get health care for all.


Beginning on Feb. 26, the anniversary of when we found out for sure Mike's cancer was back, I've been running through the day-by-day remember-when.

It's called anniversary syndrome.

A year ago today we still had him. We knew we were going to lose him, but it hadn't happened yet. We didn't know what life would be like without him; now we do.

A year ago today, there was no Life o' Mike, and President Obama had yet to say he would stand up to the special interests.

I love that he did that, by the way. Now we'll see if it will work.

I'm willing to stand up and tell the medical industrial complex and tell them they have to change. We all have to do that. They're not going to give in easily. And if we don't all stand up to them, more people will die.

A year ago today, I knew I would lose my child to this system. Since then, 30,000 lives have been lost. How many more are we going to allow?

Richard Kirsch, campaign manager for Health Care for America Now, in a piece on Huffington Post, vows to fight the insurance industry, which already is gearing up to fight President Obama's plan to provide health care for all Americans.

Harry and Louise came back last summer, this time sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, but with a warm welcomoe from the health insurance industry.

We have to be on guard for their campaign. We have to keep our focus on the goal of access to quality care for all Americans, not just those who have no health problems -- or have had health problems in the past. They will try to stop system reform; we have to stop them. Enough people have died already.

To read the post, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-kirsch/the-honeymoons-over-healt_b_171169.html