The Beginning of Health Reform

On March 23, 2010, President Obama made history by signing into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a landmark statute that aims to fundamentally reform virtually all aspects of the nation’s health care system. The health reform law is fairly viewed as the most sweeping social policy legislation since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiatives.

There are many specific goals of the statute, including expanding health insurance coverage, increasing access to health care services, improving health care quality, enhancing the value of care received, eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities, strengthening the public health infrastructure, expanding and diversifying the health care workforce, and encouraging consumer and patient wellness at home and at work. More fundamentally, however, the goal of health reform is to restructure the current health care system into one that operates more fairly, more efficiently, and with more accountability on the part of the many different stakeholders involved.

Although passage of the law was 14 months in the making, the statute itself is merely the first step. Next comes the truly challenging part: translating the enormous (and enormously complex) law into a transformed health system. 

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