05/22/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Tears of 24 Years May Finally Slow Down

Almost every day of my law practice for the past 24 years has involved listening to someone tearfully tell the same tale over and over, with minor variations thrown in. They worked until they got sick or injured. They had health coverage for a while through one program or another, or their employer sponsored health insurance, but there came a day when they still needed health care and the bottom dropped out. Their COBRA ran out, or they couldn't afford the COBRA in the first place, or their spouse on whose plan they depended died, or lost his job, etc. The variations are endless but the bottom line is the same -- no way to pay for necessary health care costs. The result? Disability, bankruptcy, divorce, and the loss of a productive member of society.

According to the tea party and Kill the Bill rhetoric, I guess this situation is okay with some people. I'm guessing none of those spewing this line of thought have ever personally found themselves in the situation of needing to get health care in order to live and having no way to get it. Or worse, watching a spouse or child in that situation and being utterly unable to help them.

My job is to help my clients get on Social Security disability, which in turn can get them Medicare or, sometimes, Medicaid. It is an arduous, lengthy process and shouldn't require the assistance of a lawyer, but it does. I have had many cases over the years where, had my client had reasonable access to care, he or she would not have ended up disabled and needing lifelong disability benefits (paid for by us taxpayers). The classic example that I have pointed to many times was my client, a young woman whose husband died, leaving her without insurance, who then broke her hip and couldn't get any help because, according to the University Hospital ER, it wasn't "an emergency." By the time I got her on Medicare, it was too late to restore full function to her hip. She will likely be on lifetime disability benefits (and Medicare) in part because there was no way for her to get the help she needed when she needed it.

I am under no illusion that the health care reform bill passed yesterday will help all of the people who need it, but it is a step in the right direction. The status quo is simply not sustainable. The current system costs us more in dollars and well-being and in the cohesiveness of society than this bill ever will.

I simply have no more patience for anyone who thinks this is socialism or "bad for business" or creates a death panel or any of the other lies and garbage being spewed. My experience tells me you are wrong, the hard facts and no less than the Congressional Budge Office says you're wrong, and my clients will all tell you that you are wrong. These are real live human beings and I am looking forward to being able to cut back a little on my office Kleenex budget in years to come.

God Bless those who stood up for what is right and got this bill through.