Health refers to the overall condition of a living organism in terms of functionality of body organs. To ensure good health of human beings, and even with extensions to other living organisms, measures are normally undertaken to prevent, treat and control diseases and disorders that negatively affect health. The need to ensure provision of efficient health services has led to measures which are meant to streamline the provision of health services. Legislations and policies have been established to educate people and ensure that an effective health service is provided to a society. This paper seeks to discus health laws and regulations. The paper will discuss the role of government regulatory agencies, laws and regulations that are currently effective in the health industry as well as the impacts of these laws and regulations.
Government regulatory agencies in health industry
The United States of America has an established body that oversees the running of the healthcare industry in the country. The department of health and human services as an established government body which is mandated with the responsibility of issuing “regulations to implement laws and develop policies and guidance of industry, state and local government and other organizations” (HHS, n.d., p. 1). The federal government of the United States of America has delegated to this body, the responsibility and jurisdiction of regulating the provision of health care in the country. This responsibility is exercised through establishments of quality “health standards, additional laws and regulation and policies and guidelines” (HHS, n.d., p. 1) that are meant to educate the public and even enforce measures on citizens, private institutions and government agencies regarding health services provision. Regulations have for example been established to protect individuals’ private health information as well as laws regarding “food and drugs, medical and health care, Medicaid and Medicare, research, fraud prevention and detection” (HHS, n.d., p. 1) among other issues. The department of human and health services however does not solely formulate the laws and regulations in the health care industry, but offers a regulatory role to agencies for the formulation and implementation of laws and regulations that relates to health care (HHS, n.d., p. 1).
Government agencies in the united states that are directly involved in the health care industry includes bodies such as “Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services, Fed world, the Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Health” (Pharmweb, 2011, p. 1) among other agencies. These agencies are charged with specific roles of enforcing and ensuring government’s policies in regard to healthcare industry are well implemented (Pharmweb, 2011). The Centre for Disease Control is for example a United States governmental body that participates in the health industry in both United States and foreign countries. The agency operates in foreign countries but is uniformly under the funding and management of the United States government. The roles of the Center for Disease Control are normally determined by the United States congress for the provision of health services and initiatives to the whole international community. Dissemination of the agency’s programs is however conducted with coordination and cooperation between the United States government and partners in cases of roles in foreign countries. One of the roles of the Center for Disease Control is the initiative into controlling AIDS epidemic. The federal government of the United States has through the Center for Disease Control moved to help other countries as well as fight alongside other countries in the war against AIDS. The agency offers the services of experts to institutions and organizations that deals with research and control of the disease. Specific roles of the Center for Disease Control include measures such as establishing and implementing steps for “prevention, care and treatment” of the infection, developing equipments for laboratory research activities and supporting processes of analyzing the progress of inputs into the war against aids (Salaam, 2009, P. 2).
The Center for Disease Control has also been effective in the role of prevention and control of other diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, polio among others. The role of the agency can therefore be identified as that of ensuring preservation of human lives through the control of these deadly diseases. The agency, through its research initiatives has established grounds for developments of effective medicines for these diseases as well as other measures that can be undertaken to control the spread of the diseases (Salaam, 2009, P. 2). Another government agency, the National Institutes of Health, is on the other hand charged with responsibilities of undertaking research into understanding the nature of human beings. The roles of the agency include research into enhancing the country’s potential of protecting and improving the welfare of citizens. Prevention of diseases and improved living standards are also part of the roles of the agency. The case study of these two government agencies as players in the health industry indicates the government’s active involvement in the health sector. The participation of the government in the health industry ensures that the interest of the public in terms of health matters is taken care of contrary to cases that are witnessed in industries that are majorly dominated by private sectors (OMA, n.d.).
Impacts of government agencies on health care industry
Activities of government agencies such as “surveillance, research and prevention” are measures that have been extensively undertaken and have played an important role in improving people’s lives. Research and prevention initiatives have for example led to advanced measures of preventing infections of diseases and even better ways of living with infections. With respect to controlling infections, the government agencies are playing a role in improving other aspects of people’s lives in economic and social terms. Prevention of infections saves people from spending money and time that could have otherwise been used in a different way usefully. Social impacts are also realized in the sense that a person that is infected by a disease is most likely inactive and withdraws from social activities. An event of death also permanently deprives bereaved people of social attachments that existed in relationships with the deceased. The agencies therefore have important social and economic impacts on citizens. The agencies also help the government in fulfilling its social responsibility to its citizens. Effective achievement of the agencies’ objectives also saves the government costs of treating diseases as well as economic costs of withdrawal of people from work due to sicknesses (APIC, 2008).
Examples of laws and regulations in the healthcare industry
One of the laws in the healthcare industry is the “consolidated omnibus budget reconciliation act” (Cobrainsurance., 2003, p. 1). The legislation gave rights to some category of people including “former employees, retirees, spouses and independent children” (Cobrainsurance., 2003, p. 1) an extended health cover. The acts provide for medical cover sponsored by employers to employees through insurance policies. According to the cobra act, any employer whose number of employees exceeds twenty and whose entity was operational for at least half of the preceding year is obligated to the act. The COBRA act is enforced by government agencies such as the “the Department of Labor and the Treasury” (Cobrainsurance, 2003, p. 1). Other state agencies such as pensions department also play a role in the enforcement of the act. The act in its provision of medical cover is quiet helpful to beneficiaries of the covers. Owing to the rising medical costs for example, a provision of a medical cover for an individual is considered to be a boost to household economies. The act also had a positive impact on investors in the field of insurance. Benefits such as medical covers among others are normally undertaken by insurance companies. The act as a result provided an increased market for these companies leading to their subsequent increased revenues (Cobrainsurance, 2003).
Another legislation that was enacted under the health care is the “patient safety and quality improvement act” (Green and Rowell, 2007, p. 96). The act introduced provisions that enhanced safety of people who seek medical services. In its provisions, the act created avenues through which patients could report cases in which they feel that their safety are being compromised. The establishment of such avenues whose confidentiality was also ensured allowed for the identification of weaknesses in the provision of medical services. This further has the effect of improving health care services by improving on the issues that are raised by patients. This provision also helps health care institutions in monitoring their workers thereby increasing professionalism in the provision of health care. In its application, the act similarly yields benefits to patients. Reporting inefficiencies, which yields checks into improving services offered by medical institutions results into benefits of improved health services to patients that can be translated to improved health standards. The establishment of organizations to oversee the process of collection and evaluation of such information provided by patients is also a step towards positive implementation of the act (Green and Rowell, 2007).
The “nursing home reform act” which was enacted in the year 1987 has also been a significant legislation in the health care sector. The act provided that patients in nursing homes be accorded quality services. It also established a set of rights that people in nursing homes were entitled to. The act also provided for government’s financial responsibility over “long term care for residents if the homes were certified by subject states” in which they are located (Green and Rowell, 2007, p. 94). The government’s involvement in support of long term care has the impact of improved services to residents of the facilities due to motivational factors that the facilities receive in terms of financial provisions. The act also ensures quality treatments of people under nursing home care by its direct provision as well as government subsidy to specified nursing homes (Green and Rowell, 2007, p. 94).
Being a sensitive sector, healthcare in the United States is directed by the government, just as it is in other countries. Measures have been taken by the government to regulate the health care sector by direct provision of health care services such as research into prevention and control of diseases as well as treatments. The government has also enacted legislations to ensure that stakeholders in the health care sector that includes the government, medical institutions and even employers are responsibly involved in ensuring quality provision of health care in the United States.
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Green, M. and Rowell, A. (2007). Understanding health insurance: a guide to billing and reimbursement. New York, NY: Cengage learning.
HHS. (n.d.). Regulations. 2011. Web.
OMA. (n.d.). National Institute of Health. 2011. Web.
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Salaam, T. (2009). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Global Health programs: FY2001-FY1010. Web.