Wednesday, May 21, 2008
While many tributes have been written today demonstrating the huge impact that Senator Kennedy has had on all our lives, the Wall Street Journal Health Blog notes his importance to a large number of health law initiatives. Jacob Goldstein writes,
Nowhere has his role as power broker been more apparent than in health care. A genetic nondiscrimination bill that remained stalled in Congress for a more than a decade finally moved ahead earlier this year with Kennedy’s help and was signed into law today by President Bush, the Associated Press reports.
His deal-making skills were essential in adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare, and he was a key force in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. He was a central player in crafting last year’s big FDA reform bill. If Kennedy, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, is unable to return to work in the near future, it’s unclear what will happen to the health-related issues he’s been working on. Kennedy’s the sponsor of a bill that would give the FDA power to regulate cigarettes. That effort, described in this WSJ story, could falter without Kennedy’s backing.
And, as Politico notes today, one of Kennedy’s top priorities for the summer was to negotiate a compromise over conflicting versions of a mental health parity bill passed by the House and Senate. In those negotiations, he would have been sitting across the table from Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat who is the senator’s son.