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Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis
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Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  54 reviews

A much-needed and hard-hitting plan, from one of the great Democratic minds of our time, to reform America’s broken health-care system.

Undoubtedly, the biggest domestic policy issue in the coming years will be America’s health-care system. Millions of Americans go without medical care because they can’t afford it, and many others are mired in debt because they

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 19th 2008 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Feb 02, 2009 rated it liked it
He does (or his co-author does, not sure) a very good job of outlining the current state of health care and health insurance. Anyone who keeps current on such things will recognize a lot of the statistics he throws out but it is really nice to have it all in one place and, honestly, if I was going to try to hand someone a primer for where our health policy problems lie, this book (at least the beginning) would be excellent.

Like others have said, his policy recommendations are sort of weak. A we
Dec 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Enough to make one hopeful that as HHS Secretary under President Obama, Daschle might just pull off universal coverage. Oh, be still my heart.

This is a quick read, but very informative. It of course opens with the obligatory heartwrenching stories about how our current system of health care delivery absolutely fails in various circumstances, and which rightly strike fear into your heart when you realize that but for the grace of God go you and your family. It includes a very useful history of a
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone should read this and start talking about it.
Health care in the U.S. not being solved after all, I thought it was past time I read Daschle’s ideas on the subject. This book was published in 2008, and although we’ve gotten much closer to universal coverage under the Affordable Care Act, it has not done enough to bring down costs. The underlying facts and assumptions are still valid.

Starting with Daschle’s assessment of the prospects for health care reform, he cites several barriers, which still obtain.
• Health insurance as it is now struc
Sagar Jethani
Oct 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: political-theory
Former senator Tom Daschle has a greater command than many of the numerous complexities surrounding health care reform. 'Critical' examines the state of health care in the United States in 2008 prior to the election of Barack Obama. Although Daschle's role in the new administration was eliminated due to the surfacing of embarrassing failures to pay income tax, his memoir offers a telling look at why Obama decided to make health care reform his first major issue after TARP, and also why the resul ...more
Feb 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
As a rule, I don't read books "written" by politicians. I find them self-serving, self-aggrandizing, slanted, ghost-written, and aimed at turning public service into quick cash while prolonging the politician's fame on a book-signing tour for pretty hardbacks destined to sit unread on coffee tables. However, when a copy of Former Senate Majority Leader Daschle's diagnosis of health care reform ended in my lap, I thought I should read what insights my future Boss would have on the imminent nation ...more
D Books
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you really want to know who is really responsible for dragging their feet, slow to come to the table, and even resisting health care reform then this is the book you want to read. For those of you who are not in the medical profession let me spell it out for you: Lobbyist representing powerful physician groups, pharmaceutical companies, and some hospitals. Why?: THEY WANT MONEY/GREED! It is all about turning a profit for these big three. Yes, there are a lot of physicians and especially hospi ...more
Mindy McGrath
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: healthcare-books
If you want a great history lesson on how the patch work quilt of legislation has created the US healthcare system that we experience today then this is a good read. I appreciate that Senator Daschle went beyond espousing many of the challenges with the healthcare system and offered ideas on solutions that might address the issues that exist.
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Kelly by: Brett
Shelves: 2008, politics
This is a broad overview of the state of American healthcare that is perfectly accessible to someone like myself that doesn't have much background in the area.

Daschle starts off by rattling off statistic after tragedy after heartbreaking story of how American healthcare is unreliable, not comprehensive, and hugely over priced. He really drives home how many people are left out, and how "the best health care in the world" only applies to the richest among us and even middle class Americans are a
Mar 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clearheaded diagnosis of the many ills of the American healthcare system, replete with the expected horror stories and some concepts for improvement, as well as a legislative history of various plans for universal healthcare coverage (especially President Clinton's effort). This book was written before Daschle was nominated for and subsequently withdrew from consideration for HHS Secretary under President Obama, and also of course written before the Affordable Care Act became the law of the la ...more
Mar 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Daschle provides a good historical review of attempts at health care reform, assesses the current state of health care in the US, describes the challenges for achieving reform and provides insights about what's necessary to get the job done. He argues that a primary reason for Clinton's failure is that he lost momentum when a series of foreign affair emergencies claimed his attention. I wonder if Obama's efforts will be sidetracked similarly as he deals with the current financial crisis? This is ...more
Dec 23, 2008 rated it it was ok
Mindless dribble from the incoming Secretary of Health and Human Services. Daschle outlines many of the obvious flaws with American healthcare system (although he fails to mention the excessive regulation that exists). He then proposes some recommendations, specifically creating a Federal Health Board (akin to the Federal Reserve Board). Basically, he wants an unelected board to control most aspects of the health care system. He states: "We must emphasize the fact that unlike the decision-makers ...more
Dec 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is perfect for anyone confused about the issues surrounding health care reform, like I was.

Even though it was written a couple of years ago, it's still applicable to all the health care reform stuff that's going on today. The book fully explains the history of health care reform in America, which I never knew was a big issue as long ago as the Truman presidency.

Seriously, everything is laid out very simply and I feel MUCH more informed after reading this book. I got used to reading new
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very well thought out book. An easy read considering the subject matter is anything but accessible. This affects all of us and Tom Daschle's book becomes all the more important given his nomination to be HHS secretary. Unfortunately, the book has its share of hyperbole and biased research evidence - although, can a politician ever write a book that is free of exaggeration? The ideas are more realistic than revolutionary. The wounds of past wars lost seem to have tempered the writer's thinking. ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Discusses our nation's complicated health care problem in easy to understand terms and without finger pointing (or with equal finger pointing at all sides....) It was eye opening to learn about the evolution of our current healthcare system as it paralells the call to reform it. Former Senator Daschle's suggestion for a Federal Health Board is the best I've heard so far- we must form an independent panel of experts removed from the pressures of partisanship and pressure from special interests in ...more
Jan 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
The good news is, the wheels are moving and health care reform is likely. The more I learn about health reform, the less confident I feel about any solution. This book does a fairly good job of catching me up to speed on reform attempts since Franklin Roosevelt.
But I wonder if more bureaucracy in the form of a Federal Health Board is really the best way to control costs and expand coverage? I fear a reduction in the autonomy of the physician, transforming them from the independent thinkers I as
May 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Health Policy Wonks
As Barack Obama slowly but surely moves into the presidency, and as his quote "Sen. Daschle brings fresh thinking to this problem" is printed on the front cover, above the title, I couldn't resist this little gem. It offers a sparse but fair history of efforts towards universal coverage and some interesting but minimally fleshed out ideas for reform. As a doctor interested in a single payer system with an adjunctive role for private insurance, this was right up my alley. Though the arguments hav ...more
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
I read this when it looked probable that Daschle would be the point man for health-care reform. Not only was he denied the job because of questionable tax practices, but his main model for a smart reform of American Health care was the Federal Reserve. Thanks to the banking crises, that particular theory has crashed and burned. So yeah, at the time it was an intriguing, if optimistic and somewhat vague, read. At this point I would say your average romance novel would have more influence on healt ...more
Feb 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
Author admits Congress and Pres. are too political to resolve U.S. Health Care problems, so he suggests a National Health Board, with single-payer system i.e. Federal Govt. This board would make decisions on who gets what care, who pays how much, and what providers are paid.

Taschle tauts FED and SEC as examples of how the Health Board would be in charge...Good Luck! We see how well these agencies did (NOT!) do in regulating the economy. And they are not answerable to anyone!
Oct 31, 2008 rated it liked it
A prescient read considering Daschle's nomination as HHS Secretary. He did a great job of detailing the history central issues regarding health care in America. He did not go into detail about proposed solutions other than to describe a FED-type entity overseeing health care, but I think that was wise in this case -- he admits he doesn't have all the answers, but he seems to be smart about how to go about finding them. A highly recommended read.
Clint Ledbetter
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: healthcare
WOW! This book is excellent. I truly appreciate the education I received from Mr. Daschle. I am getting ready for my first courses in Health Administration and feel like I'm truly prepared for my "Insurance and Managed Care" course because of all the excellent research Daschle put into this book. I completely agree with his reasoning and his plan for universal healthcare coverage. Everyone should be required to read this book.
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was ok
An okay read - the first half was a quick (although understandably biased) history of US health reform, followed by some proposals. (The main proposal being a Federal Health Board similar to the Federal Reserve Board.) It may be because he and the other authors were trying to keep it short and accessible, but I'm not entirely sure I buy it. And if a relative policy noob like me can poke holes, I'm not sure how likely it is to fly.
Jul 22, 2009 rated it liked it
This book outlines the loss of competitive edge our country faces dues to the high cost of health care as well as the risk involved with employer based insurance (i.e. high cobra costs when jobs are eliminated). Daschle provides a history, begining with Truman, on the struggle to legislate a solution to the health care problem. I'm not sure I agreed with his solution, but I'm glad I read the book.
Ed Pluimer
Some helpful information about the big picture of healthcare in the US. A modest effort to refrain from attacking viewpoints other than his. ALMOST enough to help one forget that he deprived himself of the opportunity to be at the center of the decision-making process by avoiding paying taxes for limousine liberal 'entitlements.'
The Federal Health Board that Daschle proposes would, among other things, rate the relative merits of all treatments. This would generally improve outcomes and give us more bang for the buck. Shannon Brownlee called for such an agency in Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.
Bryce Johnson
Jul 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Written for an uninformed audience. If you think have a good handle on the healthcare debate, don't read it. But it does well presenting the liberal view on healthcare and government programs. Largely based on the plight of the poor, the have-nots, who become that way because of powerful, heartless social institutions.
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Wanted to read this and see where he is on the issues and what this Federal Health Board is all about. Not a whole lot of substance but he delivers his point fairly loud and clear. For all it's lofitness about transcending the political noise, he sure doesn't hesitate to take snipes at certain constituencies.
Josh Dubois
Jan 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting introduction to Daschle's ideas on health care. This was the first I've heard of Daschle's federal reserve board style independent oversight agency. Not too in depth on the policy ideas, but a good read.
Dec 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I just reread this book in light of Senator Daschle's recent nomination. I am again impressed by what a quick, easy read it is, yet it manages to provide a wonderful overview of the many problems with our health care 'system' and succintly offers the Senator's recommendations for changing it.
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
Part of my bias against this book is my inability to enjoy non-fiction much anymore. I definitely like the message of the book and agree with the general premise, but it read too much like a text-book for me to really enjoy it.
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
In spite of my disappointment in Tom Daschle's tax status, he seems to really understand health care. To those of us who have been in the health care field, it is refreshing that he 'really gets it."
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Thomas Andrew Daschle is a former U.S. Senator from South Dakota and Senate Majority Leader. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He is currently a Special Policy Advisor at the law firm Alston & Bird, visiting professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a Richard von Weizsäcker Distingu ...more