Medicare and Medicaid: A Reference Handbook

ABC-CLIO. (Contemporary World Issues). Jan. 2021. 299p. ISBN 9781440873348. $63. REF
Shaw (political science, Illinois Wesleyan Univ., Bloomington; The Dysfunctional Politics of the Affordable Care Act) offers an in-depth political perspective of Medicare and Medicaid, government programs that provide health care coverage to Americans who are over 65 or disabled and low-income Americans, respectively. He reviews the history of the programs, beginning with 1930s discussions about public health care. Chapters Five (“Documents and Data”), Six (“Resources”), and Seven (chronology, glossary) are the most reference-friendly, while Chapters One through Four delve into political arguments for and against Medicare and Medicaid. Chapter Two identifies problems in both programs, including high, poorly controlled spending; low provider reimbursements; and high drug costs. Chapter Three presents a wide range of public health care opinions, from patients, providers, insurance executives, and politicians; some see Medicare and Medicaid as lifesavers, while others think they’re expensive, ineffective, and rife with fraud. Chapter Four identifies many organizations involved in the health care debate, but only one individual (Vermont senator Bernie Sanders).
VERDICT Most reference works about Medicare and Medicaid focus on benefits, provider requirements, Medicaid planning and application, health care fraud, or the single-payer concept; this volume sets itself apart, offering a detailed, nuanced look at the debate around public health care. A fascinating, useful book.
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