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Book and Media Reviews
April 1, 2009

Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis

JAMA. 2009;301(13):1384-1385. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.382

Seldom has a volume appeared on the bestseller list, only to be banished days later as literary (and political) tastes and preferences changed. But that is what happened to Tom Daschle's Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis. As the former Senate Majority Leader's nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services came and went, so did the fortunes of this slim volume—a blueprint of what might have been, had Daschle not come under tax scrutiny.

Senator Daschle's misfortune is a loss for all interested in meaningful health care reform. As Critical demonstrates, he was a student of and participant in earlier reform efforts and learned invaluable lessons. His departure from the political spotlight makes it all the more important to heed his words as an author. Most important, Daschle learned to couch the lack of access for 47 million persons in the United States as a moral question. Unlike the Clinton Plan, which was motivated by economic concerns, the Daschle Plan would have been informed by an ethical obligation to a citizenry facing the consequences of a lack of coverage.

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