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Books, Journals, New Media
August 22/29, 2001

PoliticsExperiencing Politics: A Legislator's Stories of Government and Health Care

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available


Copyright 2001 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2001American Medical Association


by John E. McDonough (California/Milbank Series on Health and the Public 2), 342 pp, paper, $19.95, ISBN 0-520-22411-6, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2000.

JAMA. 2001;286(8):971. doi:10.1001/jama.286.8.971

John McDonough went to the Massachusetts state legislature with three things: a degree in public health, commitment to health care reform, and naiveté about the political process. This engaging, chatty, wise, readable book is a unique account of his political education.

The book is loosely composed of "case stories." Stories are distinguished from studies by being the author's personal experiences as a participant-observer rather than being the comprehensively researched and multiperspective narrative of a case study. Some stories deal with health bills: consumer rights and health maintenance organizations, hospital cost containment, a state program to expand health care access, and the Clinton health care reform effort. The nonhealth case stories address neighborhood revitalization, tenants' rights, a state budget crisis, campaign financing reform, and capital punishment. These diverse topics are united by a thread that uses them to show how policy changes arise, are carried, and either pass or fail.

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