I sure hope it works. I’m talking about the landmark health reform law:
It’s been a disquieting year. The debate – brawl may be a better word – about health care has been awful. Slogans, distortions, slick advertising, charges and counter charges. You name it and we’ve had to endure it. Everything but meaningful debate that puts good public policy and common sense above partisanship and short term gain.
But now it’s law. Stretching well over 1,000 pages, it’s impossible to judge whether every provision is a good one and was necessary. But on the whole, I think it was a risk worth taking. I for one am pleased that this new law has found a way to insure another 33 million Americans. I believe that the social contract we have as citizens of this great nation means we are willing to do our part to support certain public benefits – schools, libraries, parks – and I would say basic health care – that benefit all of us, no matter our economic status or interest in using these public services. Finding the right balance between our obligations as a citizen of a nation and our rights as individuals will become one of the defining issues of the fall elections.
Now those thousand-plus pages of the law must be turned into millions of pages of regulations. The devil will be in the details. For the next few months we’ll be reading newspaper stories about little known provisions of the law. Just two days ago I read in the Wall Street Journal that the health bill “requires that restaurant chains post calorie counts for all the food items they sell.” I’m sure the restaurant lobby knew, but I sure didn’t.
The law will have profound implications for the nonprofit sector.
Two in particular strike me:
One, we’ll need to be in the middle of the deliberations about the meaning and spirit of the law as regulations are written up. This will take time, smarts, and toughness. It will require nonprofits doing things they hadn’t done before and doing things that weren’t budgeted. But these discussions could eventually determine the success of the bill.
Two, much of the implementation of this bill will ultimately be borne primarily by nonprofit organizations and their employees. We’ll need to be at the top of our game. Many observers will be looking for signs of failure as proof that this legislation was misguided. We’ll need to demonstrate our capabilities and capacities like never before. Millions of our fellow citizens will be counting on us.
The preceding is a guest post Bob Ottenhoff, Chief Executive of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. With an entrepreneurial spirit, strong technology focus, and a quest to make an impact in the world, Bob has the ability to take an organization and lead it into strong performance, sustainability, and industry leadership.