Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh. (Eds.). the Battle over Health Care: What Obama's Reform Means for America's Future

By Short, Pamela Farley | Inquiry, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh. (Eds.). the Battle over Health Care: What Obama's Reform Means for America's Future


Short, Pamela Farley, Inquiry


Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh. (Eds.). The Battle over Health Care: What Obama's Reform Means for America's Future. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. 2012. 223 pp. $26.

Considering the book's title, prospective readers might expect that Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh have written about the disagreements and tactical maneuvers involved in the enactment and implementation of "Obama's reform." However, the battle over health care that the authors describe began before Barack Obama's presidency and will probably continue long afterward. They see the combatants as the powerful interests that continue to fight for their own economic and political gains in health care, even as patients lose from unsafe care and high costs.

This book is an indictment of the president, the political parties, and the "medical-industrial complex" for pursuing selfish interests at the expense of patients and citizens. It is organized into five parts. Part 1 describes the deals made by Obama and the Democrats with health insurers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, and physicians to secure support for a major expansion of health insurance. Part 2 criticizes the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for failing to put enough emphasis on reforming health care, rather than health insurance. It blames the American Medical Association's Relative-Value Scale Update Committee for undermining the availability of primary care by "fixing" Medicare prices in favor of specialty care, and accuses hospitals of choosing "financial gimmickry" instead of reengineering for safety, quality, and efficiency. Part 3 draws parallels between greed and excesses in health care, and the recklessness that brought down the financial industry in 2008. Part 4 paints a picture of America's descent into bankruptcy, should it fail to slow the growth of Medicare and other health care spending over the long term. Part 5 offers "Ten Steps to More Affordable Health Care." Here, the authors warn about lobbying efforts to eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board, "the only meaningful part of health care reform to directly rein in Medicare spending." They also elaborate on alternatives to lawsuits for compensating patients harmed by medical errors, and the need for larger investments in identifying and prosecuting health care fraud.

Gibson's and Singh's biggest complaint about "Obama's reform" is apparently encapsulated in the title of Part 2, namely, "How Health Care Reform Did Not Reform Health Care." Indeed, that would be an appropriate title for the entire book. …

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