The Role of the Executive in Healthcare Policy

The delivery of healthcare involves many stakeholders who work together to ensure quality delivery. These stakeholders include healthcare practitioners, regulatory bodies, research institutions as well as the government. The government has a particularly important role not only in terms of standards, facilitation and oversight, but also, in terms of policy development. The government safeguards the interest of the public and ensures that they are able to access quality healthcare, through its policies. In its capacity as a health stakeholder, all three branches of government are involved at various levels of governance, from federal to local. The role of the executive branch is examined.

The executive is a branch of the government which constitutionally, is tasked with the implementation of policies developed by Congress (Patel & Rushefsky, 2014). Authority in this branch is centralized around the president, who is the chief executive. He/she possesses executive orders that allow him to make changes. However, this power is limited in that major policy changes require the approval of the Congress. According to Shi & Singh (2014), the executive like the legislative, is a supplier of policy. Different members of the executive including the president, governors and others propose policy amendments which they then push the legislative or Congress to pass into law.

Another manner in which the executive makes policy is through the development of rules and regulations by executives and administrators of governmental departments and agencies. Such rules and regulations are normally a means through which statutes and programs are implemented (Shi & Singh, 2014). This can be understood by considering (Patel & Rushefsky, 2014) contention that laws passed by Congress are usually vague or broad. It is therefore up to the executive branch to fill up the specific details that are required to make the laws fully functional. A good example is provided by Goodman, Hoffman, & Lopez, (2006) who relate that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act enacted by Congress contained broad language. The process of providing detailed guidance was left to the department of health.

The executive also plays an important role by addressing specific areas of health. This role is particularly practiced through regulatory agencies, which form part of the executive (Goodman, Hoffman, & Lopez, 2006). An appropriate example is the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (Patel & Rushefsky, 2014). This institution was tasked with the creation of policy and regulation to address the plight of workers’ health, safety and privacy at the workplace. The executive has moved to take up a more proactive role in governance and healthcare policy.

Clearly, the legislative and executive arms play interdependent roles in the development of health policies. However, the executive should have the largest role in health care. Firstly, this is because of the specialized nature of the executive which has many different departments that contain expert specialist in the particular area of policy development. Thus, such individuals understand the needs of the health care sector. For instance, Goodman, Hoffman, & Lopez, (2006) indicate that public health agencies are tasked with the assessment of a community’s health status. Secondly, the executive unlike the Congress is more readily able to devote itself to the healthcare sector to develop elaborate and detailed policy. This is explicated by the vague and broad policies enacted by Congress which executive arms must detail. Finally and more importantly, the executive is usually non-partisan and this does not interfere with its ability to deliver policy. This is unlike Congress which is sometimes unable to enact policies owing to partisanship amongst its members (Patel & Rushefsky, 2014). This hinders effective policy enactment and as such, this task should be left to the executive.


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