In all likelihood, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who lost his battle with brain cancer Tuesday night, will be remembered more, professionally, for his contributions in the arena of healthcare than anywhere else. Whether he was pushing for equality of mental health coverage, or working to ensure that children received quality and affordable coverage (by, among other things, working with Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch to establish the Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997, and helping low- and middle-income families with disabled children afford Medicaid coverage with the Family Opportunity Act in 2006), Kennedy's healthcare efforts ranged far and wide.
Other notable healthcare efforts made by Kennedy include his work establishing federal funding to care for those with HIV/AIDS; in 1988 he "secured funding for the first substantial federal initiative related to AIDS treatment," according to his Senate profile. More recently, his work on the Health, Education, labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, allowed The Affordable Health Choices Act to be passed just last month.
While many of Kennedy's colleagues didn't always see eye-to-eye with him, his opinion was one that always was respected. Case in point: Just this past Sunday, John McCain commented that the healthcare discussions going on today would be far different if Kennedy were able to participate more fully.
"He had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations," McCain said.
In a statement, former First Lady Nancy Reagan said that her husband and Kennedy "could always find common ground," and added that "in recent years, Ted and I found our common ground on stem cell research."
For more information on Sen. Edward Kennedy:
- see this Wall Street Journal blog post
- check out this Washington Post article
- view a list of his accomplishments here
- read statements by Sen. Orrin Hatch and Nancy Reagan