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The Political Life of Medicare (American Politics and Political Economy)
In recent years, bitter partisan disputes have erupted over Medicare reform. Democrats and Republicans have fiercely contested issues such as prescription drug coverage and how to finance Medicare to absorb the baby boomers. As Jonathan Oberlander demonstrates in The Political Life of Medicare, these developments herald the reopening of a historic debate over Medicare's fundamental purpose and structure. Revealing how Medicare politics and policies have developed since Medicare's enactment in 1965 and what the program's future holds, Oberlander's timely and accessible analysis will interest anyone concerned with American politics and public policy, health care politics, aging, and the welfare state.
- August 7, 2005
Usually, I cannot get through books on the social sciences. They are too long for me, and their repetitive, unfocused writing style makes it hard to me to see how the author is structuring his or her arguments. This book, assigned by my political science professor as the best book on Medicare, is a welcome counterexample to that generalization. Jonathan Oberlander covers the political history of Medicare with clarity, gusto, and (most importantly for me) concision. The body of the text takes a mere 196 pages. The book is extensively annotated with 48 pages of notes. It is printed on good paper, has an attractive cover, and is well proofread and typeset.
The bulk of the book covers the history of Medicare from its inception in 1965 to the present. Oberlander's thesis throughout the book is that, after much political debate prior to its enactment, Medicare was ruled by a bipartisan legislative consensus from 1965-1995 which subsequently unraveled in Gingrich's Republican... read more
Great introduction to Medicare financing and the politics bound up with it
By Stephen R. Laniel
- August 31, 2009
Jonathan Oberlander's book is a great introduction to the practical politics of Medicare, and to the basic functioning of the program. I knew very little going in about Medicare, and felt obliged to learn: Medicare-for-all is held up as the goal toward which all health-insurance plans should converge, so it seems that I should understand what Medicare-for-just-the-elderly entails.
Medicare part A -- which reimburses hospitals -- is funded out of a dedicated tax amounting to 1.45% from employers and the same fraction from employees, whereas part B -- which reimburses doctors -- comes out of general revenues. Part A, therefore, can go bankrupt, whereas part B cannot. Part B is like the Department of Defense; no one ever talks about the DoD running out of money. In a sense, then, Medicare and Social Security are victims of their own fiscal responsibility. They cannot exceed their budgets.
The politics of Medicare are intimately tied up with this method of funding... read more
Will Medicare survive health-care reform?
By Craig Bolon "persistentreader"
- April 2, 2010
Jonathan Oberlander's book, The Political Life of Medicare, 2003, is in some ways complementary to Theodore R. Marmor's book, The Politics of Medicare, 1970, now in a second edition, 2000. Prof. Oberlander, of the University of North Carolina, did graduate studies with Prof. Marmor at Yale. The Oberlander book gives a briefer treatment of the development and enactment of Medicare but a fuller treatment of the political disputes over Medicare during the 1980s and 1990s.
Both books consider the Clinton administration's attempt at health care reform in 1993 and 1994 and the Medicare cuts in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Both stop short of prescription drug coverage in 2003 and Congressional postponements of Medicare cuts in 2003 through 2008 (once each), 2009 (twice) and 2010 (once so far). Neither book analyzes the arbitrary structure of the cuts nor predicts their postponement.
In 2003 Prof. Oberlander predicted a health-care reform "option to build on the... read more
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