Senator Kennedy's legacy to U.S. health and health care.

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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Volume 361, Issue 16, October 2009, Pages e31(1)-e31(3). The published version is available at DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp0908059. Copyright © Massachusetts Medical Society.


Edward M. Kennedy, the long-serving senior senator from Massachusetts who died on August 25, 2009, had a major impact on Americans who deliver or receive health care services and left a vast legacy to our health care system. Kennedy arrived in Congress in 1963 with a dedication to fairness, justice, and equal opportunity and a deep well of personal commitment and energy. He brought his values to bear on the policy areas of his Senate committee assignments, one of which was Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The result was an unswerving devotion to universal access to health care, enhanced education for health professionals, biomedical research and research ethics, and public health.

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