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The Policy Process Part 1



Introduction

In order to provide proper healthcare to the public, proper and effective policies must be put in place. Healthcare policies are part of public policies.

Abood (2007) points out that many healthcare givers feel that they can only offer their services from bad side. This is not true. A healthcare provider can also offer his or her services by being an advocate of change in regulations, laws and policies that govern the greater healthcare system. In order to initiate policy change or formation, healthcare providers must understand that this process entails three main states. These are formulation, legislative and implementation stages.

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The policy process is complex. It is dependent on people’s perception of it and the impact it will have on people, amongst other issues. However, it starts with the basics. One person or a group of people identify a problem or the need for change. This further provokes ideas, suggestions and debates. The formulation stage is characterized by information, ideas and concepts. This is the stage when healthcare advocates are most active as indicated by Abood (2007). The legislative phase is characterized by debates, discussions, deliberations and justifications from the side of policy makers or legislature. The implementation stage sets in when the newly formed policy starts acting after the adoption of the law (Barker & Richardson, 1997).

Formulation Stage

This is identified as the first stage of making a policy. Healthcare advocates who are usually healthcare professionals are the most active during this stage. It is also identified as one of the most, if not the most, challenging stages of all. It is characterized by extensive research by interest groups, organizations and individuals. The purpose of this stage is to prepare a formal sample of the decision at hand (Rouse, 1997). When the policy is in this stage, the respective people frame the issue; identify the purposes and outcomes; select strategies that best suit the target outcome; and identify while planning the needed resources.

In most cases, the policy makers have more than one option of solving an issue. After the extensive research, debates and deliberations, policy makers must pick one of the options. In order to choose the ultimate policy, the parties involved must consider two factors. First, the policy must be a proper answer to the problem in as efficiently and feasibly manner as possible. The factor is that it must be feasible politically (Barker and Richardson, 1997). This means that it will go through a political phase.

Legislative Stage

This is where the policy is analyzed and debated from a political angle. It is also the state where the proposed action plan is officially made into law. The action plan enters the legislative stage as the bill. The bill is introduced to the Legislative institution through a sponsor. There are other co-sponsors in order to offer evidence. Further consideration is done by the congressional committee after the bill is introduced. The bill is referred to the committee in the line with its legislative jurisdiction. The committee is also interested in the bill’s floor consideration. It also considers if there are amendments to be carried out. The two memberships (The House and Senate) finally vote after all the processes are completed. If the two entities fail to agree on the bill, it cannot be passed.

When a bill is passed by the two houses, they are seen as temporary “special committee”. They include members from each of the party. These members are given that task of dealing with the differences arising in order to come up with a compromised bill; the bill is then taken back to the House. At this point, House members can only accept or reject the bill as no further changes are permitted. After the House agrees on the bill, it is further put on the President’s desk. If the president accepts it, it will become a law. If he/she vetoes it, this serves as a rejection. However, the house may do away with a veto if two thirds of the majority agrees to do the same (Barker and Richardson, 1997).

Implementation Stage

The implementation stage allows the concerned parties to make sure that the policy is being acted upon effectively. This is another stage where the health care advocates can be involved (Abood, 2007). It is one thing to realize how to make a policy, and it is another completely different thing to make sure that the policy is being used for the purpose it was intended (Rouse, 1997). Implementing includes pointing out on the areas that are being overlooked or have underutilized resources. Healthcare professionals can also speak out on corrupt activities that hinder the proper implementation of these policies. Additionally, they can ascertain that they come up with the strategies that make sure that the implementation stage is a success.

Conclusion

These three stages are all relevant. They guide the relevant parties to make the various amendments. Policies also need to be perceived from a political perspective in order to strike a balance in the process. Additionally, healthcare advocates need to ensure that the right strategies and processes have been put in place amongst other institutions in order to ensure implementation of the newly made strategies. Abood (2007) insists that healthcare givers, especially nurses, should be at the forefront in the policy making process because they are the ones who experience issues first hand.

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