Editor’s note: This is the first of several periodic posts stemming from presentations to be given at “The Law of Medicare and Medicaid at Fifty,” a conference to be held at Yale Law School on November 6 and 7.
This post introduces an online symposium in connection with The Law of Medicare and Medicaid at 50, an upcoming interdisciplinary conference at Yale Law School. Many thanks to Health Affairs for its co-sponsorship of the conference and for this opportunity to preview some of the work to be presented.
Why focus on the law of Medicare and Medicaid? These two programs are almost always analyzed from a policy perspective, but one of the most significant changes that the 1965 legislation wrought was bringing two major federal statutes—and, with them, the three branches of the federal government—squarely into the center of health care and regulation. To be sure, Congress had passed laws related to health prior to 1965, but until Medicare and Medicaid, most health policy was made at the local level, by state courts and state governments, and by the medical profession itself.
Medicare and Medicaid brought not only Congress, but the Supreme Court and the rest of the lower federal courts into the picture. It also made the federal administrative apparatus—federal agencies ranging from Health and Human Services, to Treasury, to the Department of Justice—central players in the world of health policy and enforcement. Nevertheless, amidst the thousands of pages that have been written about the two programs, there has been relatively little reflection on how the distinct features of law—and federal law in particular—have affected the programs’ development and successes.
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