About a year ago, Jim Morin of the Miami Herald penned an editorial cartoon showing a husband and wife at the breakfast table.
Why this has been a year to remember
Looking back on 2011
The husband, who is reading a newspaper, remarks that President Barack Obama came into office vowing to concentrate on jobs, but then spent his time on healthcare reform. The Republicans say jobs are at the top of their agenda, but then they focus on repealing the healthcare reform bill.
“Maybe it's a pre-existing condition,” observes the wife.
The year 2011 proved that if political fascination with healthcare reform isn't pre-existing, it certainly is chronic. If Americans thought they had heard enough about reform in 2010, they got another big dose of health rhetoric this year. The GOP wins a sizable majority in the House and proceeds to vote to repeal Obama's signature piece of legislation. This occurs even though the reform plan is essentially the same as those touted by conservative Republicans in the 1990s and essentially the same as that signed into law in Massachusetts by one of the leading GOP presidential candidates.
The Senate, controlled by Democrats, blocks any repeal, thus ensuring that the political parties can beat this horse at least through the 2012 elections.
Republicans also take their fight to federal courts, trying to get judges to overturn the law. They meet with mixed success and by the close of the year, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the challenges in the midst of the previously mentioned elections.
Meanwhile, the administration sets about issuing legions of regulations to implement the law. This creates a new world of opportunities for consultants and ensures that providers spend a lot of time in front of screens during webinars on accountable care organizations.
In other realms, Community Health Systems makes a bid for Tenet Healthcare Corp., which shows its displeasure with the offer by filing a securities lawsuit claiming that Community failed to disclose risks of investigation over patient admissions policies. The episode leaves a sour taste in the industry's mouth as it nears the season of good cheer.
There was more to the year—much more. You can read about it in the stories that follow. This compilation was produced by our staff of a dozen reporters in conjunction with its editors. We hope it will help you recall the events of an extraordinary year. And let's hope the new year brings more pleasant news and not just a “Groundhog Day” reliving of the worst.
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