Table of Contents
Policy Problem/Issue of Interest
Policy implementation refers to the adoption and execution of a certain policy. Policy implementation falls under the fourth stage of the policy cycle. For effective policy implementation, three basic elements such as organization, interpretation, and application have to be involved. Interpretation implies that there is translation of legislative intent into operating rules in addition to the guidelines. In turn, application implies that the newly formulated policy coordinates other ongoing operations. Effective policy implementation requires creation of appropriate agencies. Moreover, such agencies have to be governmental in nature. For instance, healthcare is a significant area for policy implementation especially concerning its accessibility.
Along with the views of Whitehouse (2012), to be implemented, policies must be transferred from the President and the state government officials to appropriate governmental agency. If no agency is capable of implementing the new policies, new institutions should be created and staffed. In addition, if policies lack clear interpretation, the judiciary is involved to force the legislators to clarify the implications of the policy implementation. Judiciary is capable of overruling the policy implementation if it is not translated well by the legislature. Moreover, adequate resources have to be allocated for the effective implementation of policies.
However, the implementation process could face complications if policies are transferred to the existing or formed agencies without a sense of direction. Often, the implementation of policies results from compromise and extensive use of politics. The Center for Economic Performance (2013) reveals that this leads to much confusion and discretion in the agencies involved in the administration of policies. Apart from bureaucratic incompetence, governmental scandals and ineptitude also lead to complications in the process of policy implementation.
One significant issue of the policy implementation is the reform of the health care sector. This issue implies the differences in access to medical care in terms of the health insurance coverage. According to the report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and Uninsured (KCMU), families with incomes of two hundred percent are at a higher risk of not being insured because their income falls below the level of poverty. Moreover, other groups that risk being uninsured are the minorities and the immigrants. According to a research conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), 19.6% of African Americans and 43.6% of noncitizen immigrants are uninsured (Center for Economic Performance, 2013).
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Decline in employer sponsored insurance (ESI) has led to an increasing number of uninsured individuals. Despite the fact that employees are offered an insurance, in most cases their employers cannot afford constantly rising high premiums. A research conducted by KCMU showed that the employee insurance sponsored by employers increases at a minimum of 9% annually (Antos et al., 2015). This rate contradicts the increase in employees’ earnings from 2.2% to 4%. Individuals who lack health insurance cannot access preventive care and hence, there are higher chances of hospitalization. Moreover, hospitalized individuals may not be able to pay their medical bills.
Goodwin and Tobler (2013) point out that about 18,000 Americans face premature death because they lack health insurance. These cases are inevitable. Solutions to this issue might lie in cost containment. This policy problem should be addressed considering the views of the people involved. American constitution declares democracy. One of the important aspects of democracy is social wellbeing, which implies that human dignity should be respected. Moreover, American democracy calls for equality irrespective of race or color. Health insurance policy must be re-evaluated as well as discrimination and disparities in issuing health insurances should be avoided for the good of all citizens.
ESI premiums should be lowered giving employers a chance to pay a specified percentage of health benefits. Blumberg, Buettgens, Feder, and Holahan (2012) confirm that affordable health insurance plans should be provided to small employers. Moreover, all children should be provided with the health insurance to avoid their premature death. Agencies concerned with the implementation of this policy should consider the income disparities of all individuals. The freedom and rights of American citizens should be respected as stipulated in the constitution.
In conclusion, the legislature should re-evaluate positive and negative implications of the health care policy because it implies high premium rates for the employers. Many children are dying prematurely and individuals, who lack health insurance, are not able to pay their medical bills after hospitalization. Children are the future generation of our country. It is the job of a social worker to take care of the needs of a society.
Topic 1: American Democracy: Ideals, Institutions and Inequality
Democracy is a form of government, which grants citizens the rights to make political decisions. Dahl (2006) opines that democracy is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people as once defined by Abraham Lincoln. Accordingly, democracy can be either direct, indirect or constitutional. American democracy comprises of three major aspects including political, social and economic. Political aspect asserts that the consent of the governed must be sought when making political decisions. Public opinion must be given a priority in governance. Social aspect provides that human dignity must be valued at all times.
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Every individual should be free to organize his own lifestyle, hold and express opinions, enjoy company of others and join associations. Dahl (2005) affirms that the economic aspect implies that all citizens must be provided with equal opportunities. Exploitation of humans by fellow humans should be eliminated. Means of production should be nationalized to reduce inequalities between the rich and the poor. American democracy comprises of various principles. Firstly, there is freedom of speech, debate and enquiry. Basic and healthy political culture is based on an open debate among citizens where they can express their views without fear.
The second principle provides for people’s participation in the government. Gold (2014) points out that through free, fair and regular elections, the government should remain a servant of the people and not a master. Democracy is based on consent, which can be withdrawn if the government fails to satisfy peoples’ expectations. Thirdly, there is the principle of open and accountable media. According to The Editors (2010), the media must be open in their agenda and held accountable to the public. Media monopolies should not be allowed. American constitution also provides for economic democracy. This implies the decentralization of economic power so that individuals and communities can be economically empowered to create and control their own wealth. The fundamental principle of democracy is equality before the law. Judgment should be made in accordance with a written law rather than in an arbitrary manner. Each citizen has an equal opportunity to seek and receive justice.
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The pluralist model of democracy argues for the distribution of power to various groups. Pluralism has a big impact on the process of formulation and implementation of policies. Various parties take part in the decision-making process of policymaking. However, the most powerful party with the greatest opportunity in most cases choose what to implement. Kocieniewski (2013) confirms that in the pluralist model, democracy can be compared to a marketplace with either less or more competition.
Various individual interest groups air out their views in addition to political parties, which compete for the influence in the implementation of policies. Pluralism requires equal access opportunities to the decision-making in the process of policymaking. Dahl (2006) asserts that under this requirement, the interest groups, political parties and individuals should be aware of the policy to be implemented including its provisions, merits and demerits. Moreover, they should be given an opportunity to present their views concerning the implementation of the policy as well as participate in its very process.
Pluralism also requires governmental neutrality in the decision-making process of policy implementation. It follows the argument that democracy is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people hence people should be involved directly in implementation of the policies. Andrews (2001) holds the view that people’s opinions should be communicated through their representatives to the government agencies concerned with the formulation and implementation of the policies. The implementation process should not be catered for the needs and aspirations of the government. Rather, it should respect the rights and freedom of citizens.
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Moreover, pluralism requires the policy implementation process to be a competition between the majority and the minority. The two parties must compete favorably to implement policies. According to the views of The Editors (2010), each party should be given a chance to air out their views and aspirations. There should be equal participation of each group in the policy implementation process. However, in most cases, the most powerful and influential party has its way. Decision should be made through voting whereby the group with more votes wins.
According to pluralist model of democracy, fragmentation is also necessary for effective competition. Fragments from each social group should be represented. For instance, Goodwin and Tobler (2013) assert that in the creation of policy formulation agencies, there should be a representation of each social fragment. This implies that each social fragment has a chance to present their views. For example, formation of the governmental agencies for the implementation of the health care policy should consider the immigrant groups like African Americans and Caucasians since they are the most affected by the implications of this policy.
In general, American democracy entails various principles. For instance, it provides for each individual’s equality before the law. Even people in power are equal before the law. American democracy also provides for various freedoms and rights of citizens. An American citizen has the right to express himself or herself freely. Therefore, this implies that they can freely participate in the policy formulation process by expressing their views. Furthermore, pluralist model of democracy provides various requirements for the policymaking process as discussed above.
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Topic 2: Voice, Protest and Democracy
Democracy enables people’s voting rights through regular and fair elections. Their voice clearly manifests in the type of leaders chosen to serve them. Andrews (2001) brings out the view that many democratic nations practice free and fair elections in order for the citizens to exercise their democratic right by voting for appropriate leaders. Egocentric political leaders, who do not realize the aspirations of their voters, are voted out and new leaders are elected. Another manifestation of public opinion is possible through mass media whereby people freely air out their views.
Democracy grants independence of mass media and freedom of speech and expression. It also provides for freedom of debate and enquiry. These freedoms are an important aspect of democracy helps open a debate among the citizens, which is the basis of a healthy political culture. Goodwyn (1978) confirms that in such atmosphere people can express themselves without fear highlighting the problems experienced by the community.
However, democratic governments have been facing protests. Often, these protests come as a result of marginalization. Some sectors of the society may be marginalized based on sex or race. Kocieniewski (2013) states that it can be because of geographical marginalization, whereby certain geographical regions of a country are developed while others are not. In addition, there has been an increase in protests especially in democratic governments with dictating rulers. Protests have both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Protests
Protests play a crucial role in the improvement of the quality and type of governance. They help keep government officials attentive to people’s needs and aspirations. For instance, Chase (1998) informs that marginalized groups can protest against racial or sexual discrimination. Protests can lead to the government formulating policies that take care of their needs and aspirations. Protests can also make the government fix or eliminate unwanted policies as well as address issues of national concern.
Protests improve the quality of life of the marginalized group. This is a result of improvements in the political, economic and social spheres of their lives after the protests. In fear of being overthrown, rulers often formulate policies that help address social, political and economic issues presented by the protesters. Cohen (2009) holds the view that protesters can exercise their will through elections removing leaders who do not address their concerns.
Changes in the type and system of governance can result from protests. For instance, protests can make opposition leaders in democratic governments push for referendum to eliminate existing government. Goodwyn (1978) reiterates that the opposition provides a balance in any democratic system. Referendum can lead to the changes in the system of governance as new leaders are chosen. New political leaders formulate new policies to help them in effective governance.
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Limitations of Protest
Protests always involve emotional appeals. Therefore, changes that result from protests are usually messy in nature and take a long time to be implemented. Such protests are also often emotional and deeply persuasive. Chase (1998) affirms that sometimes protests can be disappointing due to repugnance of the reigning government. In most cases, government challenges these protests. Success of protests depends on the public nature of the issues posed by the marginalized group.
Protests in a form of mass demonstration can also cause embarrassments to leaders with stable authorities. In dictatorial government, where leader’s authority is never challenged, protests can be highly embarrassing because leaders fear being overthrown. Additionally, Gold (2014) explains that in such states the issues of the marginalized group are never addressed. It can even lead to public arrests of the participants of mass demonstration.
It is impossible to foresee the consequences of protests. Main causes of protests usually lie in a public desire to raise the awareness of political leaders. Goodwyn (1978) indicates that protests result in political, economic and social changes. However, these changes are only implemented by the government in power whereas the next government makes same mistakes. Therefore, protests only lead to changes demanded by the marginalized group. They do not raise political consciousness for the future implementation of policies and governance.
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Protests require a legitimate organization in terms of structure. Gladwell (2013) insists that mass demonstrations have to be legitimized otherwise protesters can be arrested. Moreover, it is not certain that the political, economic and social plights of the marginalized group will change in the event of a protest. In addition, some protests always end with mass destruction of property as well as lost lives.
In conclusion, there are various manifestations of public opinion in democratic systems of governance. These manifestations involve citizens engaging in regular free and fair elections as well as the use of mass media. Democratic governments also provide various open debates for the citizens to air out their views regarding governance and the formulation of policies. In addition, democratic governments have been facing an increase in protests especially by the marginalized groups of the society. These protests have their own merits and demerits.
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