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Commentary

Will Kennedy's Death End Or Renew Push For Reform?

During his 47 industrious years in the U.S. Senate, Ted Kennedy championed more than 2,000 bills. Hundreds of them became law, including landmark healthcare legislation ranging from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 to the $20 billion health IT provisions of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
During his 47 industrious years in the U.S. Senate, Ted Kennedy championed more than 2,000 bills. Hundreds of them became law, including landmark healthcare legislation ranging from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 to the $20 billion health IT provisions of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.Now, sadly with his death last week, Kennedy will never see his lifelong quest for all Americans to have affordable healthcare coverage become a reality. In fact, Kennedy's passing could make it even more difficult for Obama and Congress' already troubled healthcare reform proposals to win enough bipartisan support to become new law.

That's a difficult truth to swallow if you're a supporter of the premise that access to healthcare should be a right to all Americans, and not a privilege for only the fortunate.

The nation's current economic crisis has demonstrated that not only are some Americans a paycheck or two away from losing their homes, many are also just a paycheck away from losing healthcare coverage when they lose their jobs.

Last week, tens of thousands of people solemnly watched from the sides of bridges and roads during the 70-mile ride transporting Kennedy's casket from his home on Cape Cod to Boston, or patiently stood on long lines to attend his wake at the JFK Library and Museum, or saluted Kennedy during his motorcade past the Capitol to his eternal resting place at Arlington Cemetery.

Unfortunately, the admiration and sorrow shared last week by millions of Americans won't necessarily translate into posthumous passage of Kennedy's lifetime dream. But if it does, it will be a remarkable and bittersweet last victory.