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Books, Journals, New Media
April 28, 2004


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(16):2023-2024. doi:10.1001/jama.291.16.2023

Jonathan Oberlander has undertaken the formidable task of analyzing the political history of Medicare. With careful documentation, Oberlander makes a lively case for his view that Medicare, once adopted, was largely modified on a bipartisan basis between 1966 and 1994, after which a major breakdown in that consensus occurred.

In 1995, with the takeover of both houses of Congress by a conservative Republican majority, a major confrontation on Medicare's future took place. House Speaker Newt Gingrich took on the task of seeking major changes in Medicare to shift it toward reliance on private insurance while cutting program spending by about 30%. President Clinton vetoed this particular effort, but the politics of Medicare had changed. Oberlander then traces the 1997 legislation and the subsequent stalemate on adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare during the years 2000 to 2002, the point at which his book ends.

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