The US health policy reform has been one of the most contested issues in the US in recent times. The hot debate of the health bill has been very characteristic in the US senate and parliament thus demonstrating the critical nature of the policy. This is in relation to the significance of the policy to the US population. Like the provision of any other bill, the legislation of the health policy has been the center of economic, political and social struggles. Opposing viewpoints have been evident among the various political and social groups. This has called upon intensive lobbying from the different interested groups including the political class, healthcare, business, agriculture, and economic elites among other groups. Nevertheless, the role of the congress has been the most focal in the legislation of the health bill. The Congress is in the center stage in all phases of the legislation thus dictating the success or failure of the bill passage. This research paper will provide an in-depth discussion and analysis of the US Congress and the Health Policy.
Role of Congress in the formulation of health policy
As noted by McLaughlin & McLaughlin (2008), the US congress is endowed with extensive tasks in the formulation and passage of any bill. In the case of the health policy, the roles of the congress are very profound. McLaughlin & McLaughlin (2008) indicated that the congress is mandated with doing basic research and studying the proposed legislation. The congress has the obligation of evaluating all issues concerning the proposed legislation and its relevance to the US population. It is the role of the congress to offer insights on the significance of the legislation to the people, thus clearing any opposition or doubts among the people. In relation to the formulation of the health policy, it is the role of the congress to make the law. The congress is also obligated with checking all administrative issues concerning the policy. As observed by Patel & Rushefsky (2006), the congress has the role of educating the public on the importance of the health reform policy. The localities, constituents and interests of the nation are also represented by the congress thus intensifying its roles in the health reform policy. Another key role of the congress in the formulation of the health policy was to remove or impeach officials. This is the judicial function of the congress in the formulation of the health policy.
How the congress operates
The US congress is one of the most powerful governance units in the world. The US congress involves the House of Representatives and the senate. The meeting of the congress is hosted in the US capitol, the Washington DC. The composition of the Congress consists of two members from each state despite the population of each state. A point worth of consideration is that the congress or the senate is endowed with powers which the house does not have (McLaughlin & McLaughlin, 2008). Some of these powers include the powers to accept treaties and confirmation of appointments of cabinet secretaries. Like any other political organ, the congress is overwhelmed by social, political and economic struggles which affect legislation. This calls for intensive lobbying so as to see the passage of any bills. The existence and adoption of the committee system lessens the congress operations in assisting in legislation. This is so because each committee helps in lobbying for the passage of the legislation. In the case of the health reform policy, the health committee has the obligation of lobbying for its passage within and out of the senate (McLaughlin & McLaughlin, 2008).
Steps in legislation
The legislative process in the federal government is very complex. Before a bill can be made into a law, various legislative processes are undergone. To begin with, the bill is introduced to the committee. This can be undertaken by any member of the congress. The second phase is the committee action which entails hearings and mark up. After the hearing and the mark up, the committee offers a report which is then debated and voted in the floor of the house. Another key phase in legislation is the referral of the bill to the other chamber. This occurs after the passage of a bill by the senate. After approval by the chamber, conference or minor changes are made into the bill then passed on to the president for approval. The president approval is the final stage which marks the bill into a law. Nevertheless, opposition of the bill by the president is referred to as a veto or death of the legislation. This can however be overridden by a two-thirds vote by the congress thus turning it into a law (Patel & Rushefsky, 2006).
How a bill becomes into a law
As noted by McLaughlin & McLaughlin (2008), a bill passes various phases before it can become into a law. As observed in the above discussion on the legislative process, the congress, the house and the president have very crucial role in determining the passage of a bill into a law. The concept of lobbying can not be down looked in the passage of any bill. This is in relation to the strong economic, social and political struggles taking the centre stage of any legislation. In relation to the US congress, a bill can only become a law if it has been supported by the committee, the congress, the house and the president. In the initial stage, the committee must lobby for the bill at the senate and house. This will lead to its acceptance thus inducing the president to ascend it into a law (Patel & Rushefsky, 2006). In case of a veto by the president, the congress should still be motivated to lobby it back in the house and attain a two thirds win thus turning it into a law.
In light with the discussion and analysis on the US congress and the health policy, it has been evident that the congress has a very vital role to play. Despite the enormous phases and strong debate passed by any legislation, the congress has the obligation of lobbying for its passage. This demonstrates the extensive tasks and roles of the congressman. It is clearly evident that the congressman is overwhelmed by high expectations both at the grassroots and the central government. On the contrary the state senator’s job entails representation of the people in higher levels. In this case, the role of the senator is concerned with the expectations of his people rather than those of the larger US population. Based on the high powers and roles of the congressman, it would be more pleasurable to work as a congressman than a senator. This is so because one would have the opportunities to help in sailing the nation even to high heights following the higher roles in legislation.
McLaughlin, C.P. & McLaughlin, C.D. (2008). Health policy analysis: An interdisciplinary Approach. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Patel, K. & Rushefsky, M. (2006). Health Care Politics and Policy in America. New York: McGraw Hill.