First and 10

But there’s still a long way to go to cross the goal line

Modern Healthcare - - Healthcare Opinion Leaders Survey -

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-

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