The Changing Federal Role in U.S. Health Care Policy

The Changing Federal Role in U.S. Health Care Policy

The Changing Federal Role in U.S. Health Care Policy

The Changing Federal Role in U.S. Health Care Policy

Synopsis

Health care in the United States at the end of the 20th century occupies a completely different place in the economy, in the public consciousness, and in its impact on government, than it did at the beginning of the century, or even in the early years of the Clinton Administration. Health care is now a multi-billion dollar industry; one that consumes more than 15 percent of the nation's GNP. Citizens now regard health care as essential to the quality of their lives, and a steady stream of new medications and procedures point to ways to extend the lives of our aging population and restore those injured on or off the job. At the same time, the changing patterns of health care have stirred a national debate over the growth of managed care and the role that government can play in providing solid health care standards--a medical safety net--within tightening budgetary restraints. This book explores the role of the federal government in health care policy development from the years of the Founding Fathers to the present.

Excerpt

Health care in the United States at the end of the twentieth century occupies a completely different place in the economy, in the mind of the public, and in its impact on the government at all levels than it did either 100 years ago, at the beginning of the twentieth century, or at the beginning of the country in the late 1700s, when the U.S. Constitution was adopted. Health care in the United States is now a multibillion dollar industry, one that consumes 15 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) of the country each year.

Moreover, that figure has been rising steadily over the past 30 years. The number of physicians, nurses, and other health care providers has increased to the point that some experts question whether the country has an oversupply. Modern hospitals have increased in size and complexity and have been described as modern temples of healing, although their role as the center of health care delivery is changing as the health care system itself changes. In fact, there are now questions whether the central role of the hospital as the linchpin and citadel of delivery of health care in the United States will hold as the new century begins (Stoeckle, 1995).

Citizens view health care as essential to their lives, and it is an unusual day when there are no articles in major national newspapers that relate to some aspect of health. Local television news shows run separate features on health care, because these are popular topics of discussion among their viewers. Most Americans today have grown accustomed to the medical . . .

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