It’s with tremendous sadness that I need to share with you that Consumer Watchdog board member and our great friend Kathy Olsen passed away this weekend. Kathy was one of the most generous and kind people I ever knew. She gave so much of herself and of her family to fight for greater safety for all patients and greater accountability for the medical insurance complex.
A determined and passionate fighter for justice, she took on the cause after her son Steven, then two years old, suffered a head injury. In the emergency room, he was repeatedly denied an $800 CAT scan by an HMO doctor that, experts and a jury later found, would have prevented his life of blindness and brain damage. Kathy has spent her life making sure Steven is happy and leading campaign after campaign for greater protections for patients.
For anyone who can pay their respects to the family, Kathy’s funeral service today is at 2:30 PM at Community Mortuary at 855 Broadway Chula Vista 91911.
A jury’s multi-million dollar verdict to compensate Steven for his lifetime of blindness was reduced by a legislative cap on damages to $250,000, and Kathy has fought to change that law for other families.
We rode the bus together for HMO patients’ rights in the mid-1990s with the mighty California Nurses Association so no other patient would face the same penny-wise pound-foolish cost-cutting that Steven did. Kathy helped enact tough rules on HMOs in California and elsewhere. She went to Sacramento, Washington, and statehouses all across America to tell Steven’s story and fight against restrictions on injured patients. She testified for greater legal and regulatory accountability for dangerous doctors and cost-cutting insurance companies.
A decade ago Kathy’s sweetness and conviction single-handedly convinced a swing-vote United States senator not to join Republicans in the Bush era to enact national legal limits on injured patients. After Kathy told Steven’s story, this senator refused to join then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in his efforts to put a national limit on medical negligence victims. It was a vote that seemed inevitable until Kathy spoke to her.
Steven Olsen is 25 years old now, and one of the sweetest and happiest disabled individuals you will ever meet thanks to Kathy’s love and care. Kathy’s husband Scott is determined to carry on her fight and, of course, her love and caring for Steven.
Our hearts are with the Olsen family today and every day. We dedicate ourselves to making sure that within Steven’s lifetime no other families have to endure what the Olsens have.
Thanks for all your support for Kathy’s fights and Consumer Watchdog.