Policies, whatever their nature, constitute very significant aspects to the entities over which they are supposed to act upon. These principles, in their roles of guiding decision making and governing the outcomes of such processes are so vital, especially when properly adopted by the concerned parties. This aspect applies to both the private and the public sector, a case in point being the health care reform policy. Health care provision, all through the globe comprise of very sensitive factors and as such, the need for the adoption of policies which surrounds the activities associated with the field goes without saying. Likewise, proper procedures ought to be put in place with the views of ensuring that such policies are adequately adopted and that they serve the purposes which led to their adoption in the first place. Like all the major policies, most of which associate with the functions of the government, this policy follows a well designed procedure which flow through the formulation to the implementation phases (Howard, 2005).
Health Care Reform
This refers to a wide-ranging rubric statute which is applied in the discussion of major policies that surround the creation and provision of health care and may also, in major cases encompass the adoption of changes within such principles. Health care reform generally, touches on the public policies that govern the delivery of health care within different countries. This phenomenon serves to increases the aspects of health care provisions to nations' citizens, enhance health care quality and facilitate access of health care services for the different individuals in the society (Anderson, Reinhardt, Hussey & Petrosay, 2008). Additionally, health care reforms help governments to extend the proportion of their citizens to whom health care coverage services are given. This is achieved through insurance companies from the private sector of through government insurance programs. Further, such reforms aid in the extension of the selection of health care providers from which the consumers are able to decide upon.
Health Care Reform in the United States has attracted a wide range of discussion most of which revolve around the sustainability and the quality of health care services within the nation. Besides these, the factors of the amounts of funds to be utilized in the implementation of the policies have also been a matter of debate (Reid, 2009). Further, aspects of the right to access of the services, the fairness in the provision of such services and access to health care have not been ignored within the discussions (Stolberg & Pear, 2010). Much of the concern of the parties in such debate has coincided with the fact that the United States spends the greatest, worldwide when it comes to health care. This is irrespective of the fact that the services delivered within the facilities are considerably below the organization for Economic Corporation and Development OECD) median as expected (World Health Organization, 2009).
Stages of Health care Reform Policy
From the time a bill is formulated to the moment it becomes a policy, a lot of happenings are always witnessed. Different policies, though instigated by the process of agenda setting usually undergo different stages most of which are closely similar, in one way or the other. Depending on the nature and the gravity of the intended policy in addition the situation of the environment under which the policy is supposed to be implemented, the numbers of stages that follow through the adoption of policies vary. In the case of health care reform in the United States, a number of different stages can be observed from the moment it was conceived to the time it was passed, that is from the 13th of February 2007 to the 30th of March the year 2010 (Stolberg & Pear, 2010). However, all these can simply be simplified to three stages which constitute that of formulation, legislation and implementation.
The formulation phase in policy process happens once some agenda have been laid forward. This means that some problems have been defined and issues also rose over the condition of a certain feature. Additionally, the issue under observation would have passed though a scrutiny process where entities known as the gatekeepers sort out elements which warrant attention either by the legislative or the executive branches of the government. During the formulation stage, an item in the agenda is analysed, majorly in the political sense and t hereafter translated with the view of causing it to translate into an authoritative decision. Such authoritative decisions can be in the form of administrative orders, regulations, administrative resolutions, laws or rules among other elements (Howard, 2005).
This stage of policy process involves two steps and this involves, the putting forth of different policy proposals and the selection of the prescript alternative. In the first step, the logic of the process is determined together with the implementation of a technical examination. Here, policy analysts lay forward their options to their suggested political decision makers. The later step involves the selection of both the prescription and the no action alternatives. Here, the support of the majority determines the selection of an option. Here, the officials, who are either selected or elected and who are not essentially specialists in the area of interest but are rather supposed as answerable to the public select one or more options as the decisions.
In the case of the United States health care reform, the formulation process goes hand in hands with the moment in which Max Baucus, the chairman to the finance committee outlined the principles for healthcare reform at the national health policy conference. Among the issues addressed in his statement included the difficulties that existed within the United States when it came to accessing and even paying for health care. Besides this, the low quality health care, the high costs notwithstanding, was mentioned in the statement (Reid, 2009). What followed this included the May 6th 2008 hearing of the finance committee on the necessity of reforms following the high costs and poor state of health care in the nation and the June 19th hearing of the same committee on the reasons behind the instability in the health care market, just to mention but a few.
The introduction of a bill into the house paves way for the legislative process of the policy adoption. Here, the legislative branches undertake various overlapping responsibilities which constitute representation, legislation and exercising oversight to the executive. In their roles of representation, these players act as the go between the government and the people they represent and this they can undertake either collectively or individually. In oversight, they help in facilitating accountability from the executive by keeping check of their conducts as regarding the policy process in enhancing the design of operational policies.
The legislative stage first begins when a member of the congress first introduces the bill to the house for debate. This is then followed by the committee hearings depending on the procedures laid down within the house. Here, the first hearing for the bill is assigned following the passage of the agenda through the prerequisite rules of the house. The author of the bill is thereafter given room to express his concerns. If the bill is passed by the committee, it is allowed to go through the second and the third reading in the house of origin. During the third reading of the bill, the author explains it and the member's debate upon it before voting on it. The roll call voting systems is used in this case. Following the approval of the bill in the house of origin, it is taken to other houses where members also discuss and vote over the bill. Changes over the contents of the bill may be made in the different steps of the legislative stage depending on the necessity of such changes being made. This may results into a number of cycles of debating over the policy. Eventually, the bill is voted upon by all the legislators. The outcome of voting by the House of Representatives then determines whether the bill is to be passed or not.
The legislative stage of the health care reform policy in the United States commenced from the first finance committee hearing of the report presented by Max Baucus. This followed a number of consequent hearings by the same committee which included issues on, how to seize the new opportunities for the reform of healthcare, the possibility of crises in the future in the case where such reform are not implemented, the benefits of the reforms in the health care market and the implementation of delivery report structure within the American healthcare system among other suggestions. This process was marked by a number of landmark events. These included, the publication of Baucus' "Call to Action" paper on November 12, 2008, the April 21st, 2009 roundtable finance committee meeting, the May 11th, 2009 meeting with president Obama and the release of the Chairman's mark of the reform bill by Baucus in September 16th, 2009,…