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May 18, 1994

Putting Health Care on the National Agenda

Author Affiliations

Boston (Mass) University School of Public Health


by Arnold Birenbaum, 208 pp, $49.95, ISBN 0-275-94411-5, New York, NY, Praeger, 1993.

JAMA. 1994;271(19):1545-1546. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510430101045

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Putting Health Care on the National Agenda is a timely and readable volume written for an audience that might be defined as most of us: everyone who is not a student of health policy but interested in becoming more informed in order to better participate in our nation's great health care debate. Birenbaum's goal is to be comprehensive and provocative and to provide criteria for assessing reform with a focus on financing and coverage. He notes that he has never written with such intensity or urgency. This makes for an easy and engaging read.

Though not lengthy, this is a book of sweeping breadth. The first section, in six chapters, addresses "A System in Need of Direction." Here Birenbaum moves from the widespread dissatisfaction with health care through changes in the doctor-patient relationship, to hospitals, business, and the uninsured. The reader leaves this section with a good appreciation of the

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