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Healthcare Reform and Congress’ Role in the Legislative Process

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Healthcare Reform and Congress’ Role in the Legislative Process

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  • October 2012
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Healthcare Reform and Congress’ role in the Legislative Process

This is not a story of good versus evil. Nor is it a tale of right versus wrong. The decision of the morality and constitutionality of the new healthcare law is for someone else to make. This paper simply seeks to address Congress’ role in the long and confusing process of passing healthcare reform. As a group, we attempted to consider every major policy actor in the healthcare reform process. We identified seven major actors: the Obama administration, Congress, the congressional budget office (CBO), advocacy groups, the insurance industry, public opinion, and the legal challenges of the law. While each actor played a specific role in the policy-making process, the bills were ultimately produced and passed by the two bodies of Congress. Therefore, considering the actors and perspectives within Congress and how they framed the issue of healthcare reform will help explain the outcome. Background

“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It's very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can't afford it.” Sound familiar? This seems to echo the opinions of the opposition to the current healthcare reform law, but in actuality it was said almost 50 years ago by a man who didn’t live long enough to see the current healthcare debate. That man was former president Ronald Reagan, and contrary to what appears to be the case at times, the new healthcare reform is not the first attempt by Congress to bring government involvement into the healthcare sector. There have been advocates for some form of government-involved healthcare since at least 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act. Although there was a push for addressing affordable healthcare coverage for...

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