Posted by: danielrashke | August 31, 2009

Edward (Ted) Kennedy – 1932-2009

The push for quality, affordable healthcare in this country lost a staunch advocate recently with the passing of U.S. Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy.  Where you fall on the political spectrum will likely determine what you think of his healthcare legacy.  At the same time, there can be no denying that his work to expand access to healthcare for children and seniors, and to increase regulation of health insurance, biohazards, and tobacco has been far reaching.

Senator Kennedy played an instrumental role in bringing into law some important health-related legislation:

  • The bill that added prescription drug benefits to Medicare
  • The bill that empowers the FDA to regulate tobacco
  • The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
  • The Protection and Advocacy for Mentally Ill Individuals Act of 1986
  • The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990
  • The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • The National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993
  • The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996
  • The Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) of 1997
  • The Children’s Health Act of 2000
  • The Project BioShield Act of 2003
  • The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2005
  • The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

As you can tell from the list above, Senator Kennedy’s healthcare agenda was broad.  In addition, he also played a key role in writing the legislation that helped bring Section 125 Flexible Spending Accounts into law. 

For almost 50 years, Kennedy pushed unsuccessfully for legislation that would reform the healthcare system and ensure coverage for all Americans.  What affect will Ted Kennedy’s passing have on the current effort to reform our healthcare system?  Of course, the answer to that question remains to be seen.  Ironically, some political analysts have been commenting that with his death chances may increase for a sweeping healthcare bill that Kennedy was unable to achieve during his lifetime.

Whatever the future holds for our healthcare system one fact remains: million of Americans have benefited from the improved protection and regulation, enhanced research, and increased access to healthcare thanks to the untiring efforts of Ted Kennedy.  He called healthcare reform the cause of his life.


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