What Is Health Policy?

Health policy is an umbrella term for various policies, plans and regulations. While these are usually related to healthcare or wellness issues, they can also be utilized for economic development or social upliftment.

Government entities play a pivotal role in health policy development. Unfortunately, they often collect data from numerous sources and may struggle to accurately assess its reliability.

Objective and Dispassionate Decision-Making

When formulating healthcare policies, policy makers must be able to collect and assess full and objective information. This includes scientific evidence as well as arguments on the scientific, ethical, social, and legal dimensions of an issue.

Decision makers may also draw inspiration from interest groups, such as professional associations representing various health care professionals. Although this type of data may be biased, it still provides useful insights.

Decision makers must be able to filter out obvious biases when crafting sound health policies. These plans should have a specific and narrow definition of the health purpose or purposes they aim to accomplish.

Once goals are established, policy makers can assess if their proposed policy is the least restrictive option to reach them. Doing this allows them to consider options that better balance societal and individual interests.

Public Accountability

Public accountability is the ability to demonstrate that resources are being allocated in a manner which results in improved health outcomes. It plays an especially significant role in health policy discussions when complex population health outcomes have multiple causal pathways.

Accountability is a complex topic, as it involves the performance of many stakeholders such as government agencies and community-based organizations (CHWs). It may be challenging to identify one set of accountability measures that can be utilized to evaluate stakeholders and their progress.

A major challenge faced by public health agencies is that they have various roles and responsibilities within their communities, each requiring its own measurement approach. These include delivering funded programs, mobilizing or convening the overall system to improve conditions for health, as well as engaging other stakeholders within the community and allied entities at all levels of the public health system.

The Legislative Branch

In the United States, Congress is responsible for creating and passing laws. The Constitution gives Congress exclusive power to pass legislation, declare war, confirm or reject many Presidential appointments, as well as grant significant investigative authority.

Members of Congress have the power to introduce legislation (known as a bill) into either the House of Representatives or Senate for consideration and debate. Once both chambers agree with the proposal, it becomes law.

Legislators are independent from the executive and must be elected periodically. This makes them accountable to their constituents and requires them to uphold increasingly stringent legal and ethical standards.

Legislators can be effective decision makers in health policy due to their capacity for collecting comprehensive and objective information and applying considered criteria in hearings. Furthermore, they use various methods to collect testimony from citizens and professionals alike; these traits enable them to craft policies which are well-targeted yet minimally burdensome on human rights.

The Executive Branch

The Executive Branch is accountable for carrying out laws passed by the Legislative Branch. It is led by the President, with assistance from his Vice President and Cabinet members.

Executive orders are directives from the President that direct federal agencies and set policy. He or she also has the power to veto bills passed by Congress, though these can be overridden with a two-thirds majority vote if Congress so wishes.

In addition to these powers, the President has the exclusive authority to grant pardons and clemencies for federal crimes. Additionally, he can negotiate and sign treaties that must be ratified by the Senate before becoming effective.

The Executive Branch of the federal government consists of fourteen Cabinet departments and numerous independent federal agencies. These organizations have a range of missions and responsibilities, with leaders often free of political party affiliation. This enables the Executive Branch to be objective and accountable when formulating health policy recommendations. Nevertheless, its decisions may still be affected by ingrained ideologies.


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