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Books, Journals, New Media
August NaN, 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


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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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