Healthcare Laws, Policies, and Regulations Timeline
Healthcare Laws, Policies, and Regulations Timeline
Healthcare is one of the fastest growing and evolving industries. Throughout the years, there have been numerous laws, policies, and regulations which affect healthcare today. Many of the laws, policies, and regulations governing healthcare has changed over time and new ones have been implemented. Some have been instrumental in establishing how healthcare is accessed and provided. This paper will create a timeline in which it will discuss The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the impact each has had on healthcare today.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act
Prior to 1986, hospitals would transfer patients with no healthcare coverage or Medicaid coverage to public hospitals without giving them a medical screening assessment to confirm they were stable enough for transfer (American College of Emergency Physicians, 2016). This practice resulted in hospitals “dumping”, transferring financially disadvantaged and high risk patients to public hospitals and/or refusing them treatment. Patient dumping caught the attention of local and federal governments and The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) was passed by Congress in 1986 to prevent hospitals from dumping patients on public hospitals (American College of Emergency Physicians, 2016). The EMTALA shifted the responsibility of charitable care to all hospitals by guaranteeing individuals the right to be seen in the emergency room at any Medicare participating hospital, regardless of their ability to pay for treatment. Though this law helped to prevent individuals from being denied emergency treatment, it has also helped create a situation where the uninsured over utilize emergency room services for routine healthcare services, adding to the national healthcare expenditure.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The U.S. spends more money per capita on healthcare than any other developed country in the world. With so many people uninsured the government has been forced to foot the bill for much of the healthcare expenditure for individuals who have little to no healthcare coverage. This coupled with all the other public health concerns resulted in President Obama signing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into law in 2010 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016). The PPACA is intended to offer affordable healthcare coverage for all Americans, and in turn reduce the nation’s healthcare spending. The PPACA has since impacted millions of Americans by providing affordable care to all regardless of age, any preexisting health condition, or any other form of discrimination, helping to increase and improve access to care nationally.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), first introduced as the Kennedy-Kassebaum Bill, is a set of regulations that were enacted in 1996 (University of Chicago, 2010). When HIPAA became law in 1996 it had two main objectives: ensure individuals can retain health insurance when transitioning from one employer to another and to guarantee the safety and privacy of patient information/data while sanctioning consistent quality standards for electronic data transferal of administrative and financial data associated with patient health information (University of Chicago, 2010). HIPAA must be adhered to by all medical establishments and their covered entities. Since its implementation, HIPAA has helped make the U.S. healthcare system more efficient by computerizing medical records and implementing and enforcing standards to manage healthcare data. It has also made it possible for individuals to have continued healthcare insurance when transitioning between employers. Since the implementation of HIPAA the extent of the act has expanded and become an instrumental inspiration to healthcare professionals, proving multiple ways to protect patient medical data.
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), and The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) were not always laws, policies, and regulations; yet they are all some of the most significant laws in place today. Considering EMTALA is one of the oldest laws mentioned, it is surprising that not all healthcare professionals of patients are familiar with the law, as there is no formal training for this law. While the PPACA and HIPAA will most likely continue to evolve to meet future and current needs of the healthcare industry and society.
American College of Emergency Physicians. (2016). EMTALA. Retrieved from
University of Chicago. (2010). HIPAA Background. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Read the Law. Retrieved from
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