Forms of Health Policies

Health policies, which were defined earlier as authoritative decisions, take one of several basic forms. Some policies are the decisions made by legislators that are codified in the statutory language of specific pieces of enacted legislation. These are laws. Other policies are the rules and regulations established to implement laws or to operate government and its various programs. Still others are the judicial branch's decisions related to health. Examples of health policies include

• the 1965 federal public law (P.L. 89-97)1 that established the Medicare and Medicaid programs;

• an executive order regarding operation of federally funded health centers;

• a federal court's ruling that an integrated delivery system's acquisition of yet another hospital violates federal antitrust laws;

• a state government's procedures for licensing physicians;

• a county health department's procedures for inspecting restaurants; and

• a city government's ordinance banning smoking in public places within its borders.

Thus, health policies may take any of several specific forms, and each form is an authoritative decision made within government. These forms of policy are described in the following sections, with examples of each.

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