Healthcare reform is more of a political catchall than a call to improve quality of care and lower the overall cost of medical care. It is even less of a call to empower patients by educating them about their legal rights. And yet, the most influential agents of positive change are not so much doctors and nurses, though they are a force for good, but lawyers and their respective clients.
Each has a role to play in a drama whose ends are clear but whose ending is uncertain; whose mission is strong but whose strength is finite; whose advocacy is a voice for millions but whose time to speak is short. Now is the time, therefore, for lawyers to make this cause their own.
Many lawmakers are also lawyers, which is not a prerequisite to holding office but definitely helpful once in office, because knowledge of the law is as important to reforming healthcare as it is to rewriting the rules governing it. Lawyers are indispensable to this process, since they have the training to pursue and secure justice.
I second that point. On the one hand, if the law is to be properly expansive—without being too expensive—it must reconcile the needs of the uninsured with the necessities that confront insurance companies; while, on the other, the law must incentivize both parties—for different reasons—to buy and make health insurance available for purchase.
Accomplishing this goal requires involvement from medical experts and legal professionals. It requires analysis from auditors and healthcare administrators. It requires, above all, involvement from lawyers fluent in the drafting and interpretation of state or federal legislation.
Until then, there will be more questions than answers. Until then, the answers will raise additional questions about how to read and enforce the law. Until then, healthcare reform will be incomplete—maybe, perhaps, impossible to finish without enough lawyers willing and able to assume this task.