Publication date: October 2012
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Cries of Crisis
Rethinking the Health Care Debate
Since the late 1960s, health care in the United States has been described as a system in crisis. No matter their position, those seeking to improve the system have relied on the rhetoric of crisis to build support for their preferred remedies, to the point where the language and imagery of a health care crisis are now deeply embedded in contemporary politics and popular culture. Here, Robert B. Hackey analyzes media coverage, political speeches, films, and television shows to demonstrate the role that language and symbolism have played in framing the health care debate, shaping policy making, and influencing public perceptions of problems in the health care system.
He demonstrates that the idea of crisis now means so many different things to so many different groups that it has ceased to have any shared meaning at all. He argues that the ceaseless talk of crisis, without a commonly accepted definition of that term, has actually impeded efforts to diagnose and treat the chronic problems plaguing the American health care system. Instead, he contends, reformers must embrace a new rhetorical strategy that links proposals to improve the system with deeply held American values like equality and fairness.
Follow Robert B. Hackey's blog, Competing Diagnoses
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ReviewsLibrary Bookwatch Reviewer's Choice
: "Offering a very different perspective on healthcare issues, 'Cries of Crisis' is a strong addition to any social issues debate collection, much recommended."
Crisis is the most overused word in the English language, and, as Bob Hackey explains so impressively in his book, it is getting in the way of the kind of constructive debate and progress that we should be making on the health care front. Nearly sixty million Americansmost of them working or members of working familiesdont have a dime of health insurance. Millions more are trying to deal with huge deductibles, and we are paying double what the other advanced industrialized nations of the world are paying for their health care. This isnt another crisisits a chronic condition that must be fixed. -- Governor Michael Dukakis
Interpreting American health politics through the lens of crisis rhetoric is one of the freshest, most innovative approaches ever. . . . [Hackey] shows the detrimental consequences of conducting policy debates in crisis rhetoric--something that others have pronounced upon in op-eds but never examined so fully. -- Deborah Stone, author of Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making