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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Health reform, you're my new hero

Remember that song, I'm Just a Bill? I love that cartoon, but as I watched it recently, I realized that my friends at School House Rock left me hanging! Health care reform has been on my mind, and what better way to understand it then to take a stroll down memory lane with the same folks who taught me my multiplication tables and the basics of English grammar? Imagine my shock and horror when I realized that the cartoon ends with the New Law wearing a sash and ribbon, smiling as confetti rains down. The End.

I stared at the blank screen, dumbstruck. But what about HR 3590(the bill)?! There's more to the enactment of a law then giving it a sash, right? What happens after all the parties and confetti? I shook my head in consternation, as another childhood hero lost its luster.

As I wracked my brain for some kind of comfort, I recalled the advice of a former professor who said, "Legislators enact laws, but the real magic happens during implementation."

The reality is that, a little over 4 weeks ago, health care reform became the law of the land. But how does health care reform actually occur? Well, the process is already underway:

  • We've got timelines! The legislation has a roadmap to get us there.

  • Some new policies take effect within the first year.

  • State advocates are already discussing steps to implementation in the first 90 days.

  • Secretary Sebelius is marching forward with us! The Secretary has already engaged states in the conversation regarding the creation of high-risk pools, to provide coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

  • The Center for Medicaid and State Operations recently issued guidance for Medicaid Coverage for the Lowest Income Populations, which provides options for states interested in implementing new policies before 2014.

Now that health care reform is underway, I have a foundation on which to rebuild the tiny piece of my childlike optimism that I lost that fateful day. Whew!

That's right everyone, it's really happening! Some of the dust is settling and we can all take part in making the dream of affordable, equitable health care a reality. Don't forget to check out Health Reform Central for helpful resources!