Friday, June 4, 2010

Behind the scenes: Implementing health reform keeps federal agency staffers busy

Throughout the whole health reform process, many people commented on how massive the legislation was. In the end, the law text weighed in at nearly 3,000 pages. If you thought that the new law is huge, just think about the efforts needed to implement the new law.

The Washington Post has taken a look at the efforts of the staffers at the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies who are working to issue regulations clarifying the meaning of the health reform legislation. As the Washington Post says: the “health-care overhaul may have slipped from the headlines since President Obama signed the bill into law in March. But the gargantuan chore of putting the statute’s more than 2,000 pages of provisions into practice is keeping Washington's policymakers and bureaucrats busier than ever.”

The White House is quite involved in this implementation effort, which reflects not only the importance of the law on President Obama’s presidency but also “reflects the degree to which the law leaves fundamental decisions to the administration's discretion,” the Post points out.

The bottom line: "How these regulations get written can have a real impact on how much health-care reform we actually end up getting--and a lot of them need to get written within weeks," says Mark B. McClellan, a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now with the Brookings Institution.

For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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