First and 10
But there’s still a long way to go to cross the goal line
At long last it is now the official policy of this country that all Americans have access to healthcare regardless of circumstances. And we have put this country on a path to control costs and improve the quality of healthcare in America.
Congratulations to President Barack Obama and his team for their extraordinary leadership and persistence in achieving something that his predecessors could not. In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and the courageous members of the House and Senate who supported this bill demonstrated remarkable leadership while withstanding immense political pressures to do what good governance required.
However, after 15 months of historic legislative effort that included countless meetings, innumerable congressional hearings, many difficult votes and thousands of speeches, this is only the beginning.
In fact, if this were a football field, we would be only first and 10 on the 30-yard line with 70 yards to go. This landmark legislation now gives us the opportunity to move the ball toward the goal line of universal access, reduce cost through meaningful payment reform and significantly improve health quality and outcomes.
After the incredibly heavy and unprecedented lift of legislating, the challenging and time-consuming task of implementation must now commence. It includes substantial reform of our insurance market, embryonic efforts to reform the way we pay for healthcare, and initial policy investments to improve healthcare delivery. It is critically important to apply these new policy tools to address our current circumstances and give priority to the problems we must solve.
As a result of the close cooperation and coordination among congressional leaders with key officials in the White House and HHS, this challenge is well-understood. They know we must use the full authority of this legislation to aggressively begin comprehensive and expeditious implementation.
My hope is that the Obama administration and Congress will work closely with all healthcare stakeholders to maximize the positive impact of health reform and minimize disruption. And as they do, they must make a concerted effort to use their newfound legislative authority to ensure the following five enacted goals are their highest priority:
First, after the economic stimulus legislation last year, this is the second critical legislative achievement in this Congress that advances the implementation of health infor-