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The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office Paperback – September 21, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0520268098 ISBN-10: 0520268091 Edition: With a New Preface

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The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office + Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, Update Edition, with an Epilogue on Health Care (2nd Edition) (Longman Classics in Political Science)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; With a New Preface edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520268091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520268098
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this engrossing text, the history of American health-care policy, from the New Deal to the Medicare Modernization Act of George W. Bush, becomes a frame through which the authors illuminate the leadership qualities of late-20th-century presidents in the arena of domestic affairs. The authors present biographies of presidents from FDR on, investigating potential influences (e.g., heart attacks, abusive parents, deceased siblings) on their attitudes toward health policy. Blumenthal, a Harvard Medical School professor, and Brown University political scientist Morone (The Democratic Wish) draw on White House telephone tapes and memos in a laudatory chapter on Johnson's role in passing Medicare, and reserve their harshest criticism for Jimmy Carter, whose administration unwittingly killed the late effort at health reform. The authors offer evenhanded critiques and conclude with lessons for future chief executives about the importance of political savvy, economic flexibility and popular appeal in determining the success of health-care initiatives. More than an excellent primer on American health policy, the book offers a thorough, incisive look at the presidency as an institution and the men who have occupied the office. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“A riveting history of health-care politics.”
(Atul Gawande New Yorker 2010-04-05)

“A book that sets a standard for the study of the presidency and of health policy.”
(Congress & The Presidency 2012-07-27)

“This timely and insightful book puts Barack Obama’s current quest for universal health insurance in historical context and gives new meaning to the audacity of hope.”
(Robert B. Reich New York Times Book Review 2009-09-06)

“More than an excellent primer on American health policy, the book offers a thorough, incisive look at the presidency as an institution and the men who have occupied the office.” STARRED REVIEW
(Publishers Weekly 2009-06-08)

“A masterpiece and a valuable primer for future presidents as they wrestle with the dragon of health reform.”
(Jeff Goldsmith Health Affairs 2009-09-01)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 12 customer reviews
Very well researched and written by two experts in the field.
Peter G. Bourne
Wonderful and insightful review of the approach to national health insurance since the 1930's by different presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt through G.Bush.
Robert
It really delves into the Hermeneutics of Health Care Policy.
Kb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Ferris on August 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a health policy researcher and doctor, I approach this book with some trepidation. I did not want a book that was going to feel like "work" to read, and yet I am genuinely interested in the details. Blumenthal and Marone got it just right. They move through a mountain of material in a well paced mix of interesting (often original) detail and insight. It could not be more timely given the debate in the country right now. This is the best available lense through which to watch how the national health reform process is playing out. Disclosure: Blumenthal used to be my boss.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Farrell on September 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
At nearly 500 pages in length, this well-researched book may contain more historical information about the politics of health care than many people would care to read carefully.

After a 20-page introduction, the authors survey eleven successive presidents in eleven chapters:

(1) Franklin D. Roosevelt
(2) Harry S. Truman
(3) Dwight D. Eisenhower
(4) John F. Kennedy
(5) Lyndon B. Johnson
(6) Richard M. Nixon
(7) Jimmy Carter
(8) Ronald Reagan
(9) George H. W. Bush
(10) Bill Clinton
(11) George W. Bush

But the 12-page conclusion is worth the price of the book. In the conclusion, the authors set forth what they consider to be "eight rules for the heart of power" -- rules that President Barack Obama and others in his administration might want to consider carefully as the August recess of Congress draws to a close and the battle in Congress over health-care-reform legislation resumes in earnest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Goode on May 6, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I've read many books that expanded my store of knowledge, but few that changed my perspective. The Heart of Power changed the way I view health care policy and the ongoing debate about it.

Although the book covers the policies of each presidential administration from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush (Gerald Ford excepted), it lays a foundation for an historical understanding of why Barack Obama made the critical decision to endorse a plan based on a public-private partnership. Blumenthal and Morone show convincingly that while liberals promoted and sustained the *idea* of universal health care access, conservatives were, over time, able to redefine the terms of the debate. The authors also include an important humanizing twist: Each president's personal -- and often traumatic -- experience with the health care system.

After WW2, no Democrat (save Jimmy Carter, who ran under unique circumstances) successfully ran for president without a major commitment to health care reform. And yet, once in office, each found passing legislation to be a maddening affair complicated by an arcane process, other priorities, formidable lobbying (first the AMA and the insurance industry). Truman never tried, and Kennedy and Clinton failed. Lyndon Johnson succeeded in enacting Medicare, but it was a surprisingly near thing.

Among Republicans, the private insurance market grew under Eisenhower and Nixon encouraged the development of HMOs. Concerned about the inevitability of a liberal government program, Eisenhower developed and Nixon refined Republican thinking about universal health insurance as a public-private partnership. Ronald Reagan pursued a massive extension of Medicare, later repealed when it proved unpopular with seniors.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By George S. Conklin on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Blumenthal's and Jame's Morone's extremely readable history of healthcare reform from FDR forward is a must-read even if only for the wonderful stories told that were drawn from an immense amount of research into Presidential archives. Beyond that, it provides a well-constructed analysis of the reasons why health care reform is such a difficult nut to crack and the skills needed for reform to go forward. While they stay away from specific policy recommendations, for very good reasons, it is clear that they support reform that will insure that good health is in reach for all and no individual is wasted.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert on September 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful and insightful review of the approach to national health insurance since the 1930's by different presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt through G.Bush. In the process, we are made to understand what makes each man tick,his flaws and strengths.
We are also left to wonder some big what if's of national health policy as well as of possible second terms(particularly Lyndon Johnson's). As the authors mention in the introduction, our current president would be well served if he used this book as a road map for promoting his plan. Essential text to understand our current quandary.
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By Kb on September 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book for a Health politics course and it is an interesting read. It really delves into the Hermeneutics of Health Care Policy.
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