The Politics of Medicaid

The Politics of Medicaid

by Laura Katz Olson
     
 

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In 1965, the United States government enacted legislation to provide low-income individuals with quality health care and related services. Initially viewed as the friendless stepchild of Medicare, Medicaid has grown exponentially since its inception, becoming a formidable force of its own. Funded jointly by the national government and each of the fifty states, the

Overview

In 1965, the United States government enacted legislation to provide low-income individuals with quality health care and related services. Initially viewed as the friendless stepchild of Medicare, Medicaid has grown exponentially since its inception, becoming a formidable force of its own. Funded jointly by the national government and each of the fifty states, the program is now the fourth most expensive item in the federal budget and the second largest category of spending for almost every state. Now, under the new, historic health care reform legislation, Medicaid is scheduled to include sixteen million more people.

Laura Katz Olson, an expert on health, aging, and long-term care policy, unravels the multifaceted and perplexing puzzle of Medicaid with respect to those who invest in and benefit from the program. Assessing the social, political, and economic dynamics that have shaped Medicaid for almost half a century, she helps readers of all backgrounds understand the entrenched and powerful interests woven into the system that have been instrumental in swelling costs and holding elected officials hostage. Addressing such fundamental questions as whether patients receive good care and whether Medicaid meets the needs of the low-income population it is supposed to serve, Olson evaluates the extent to which the program is an appropriate foundation for health care reform.

Editorial Reviews

Concurring Opinions - Nicole Huberfeld

The Politics of Medicaid provides a service in succinctly describing the state of the program before healthcare reform, its shortfalls, and some solutions…Professor Olson reminds us, at a key moment, that Medicaid is more than just headline grabbing politics—it is a lifeline for our most impoverished citizens, and one that deserves more careful attention.

Political Science Quarterly - Mary Ruggie

[A] richly detailed study.

Inquiry - Carolyn Long Engelhard

a valuable cautionary tale about the ways in which well-intentioned public policies intersect with political, economic, ideological, and cultural realities.

Concurring Opinions
...given the complexity of Medicaid, Olson's book provides a service in succinctly describing the current state of the program, its shortfalls, and some solutions.

— Nicole Huberfeld

Political Science Quarterly
an excellent critique of the perils of 'welfare medicine.'

— Mary Ruggie

Inquiry
a valuable cautionary tale about the ways in which well-intentioned public policies intersect with political, economic, ideological, and cultural realities.

— Carolyn Long Engelhard, M.P.A.

Journal of Legal Medicine
The Politics of Medicaid provides a service in succinctly describing the state of the program before healthcare reform, its shortfalls, and some solutions…Professor Olson reminds us, at a key moment, that Medicaid is more than just headline grabbing politics — it is a lifeline for our most impoverished citizens, and one that deserves more careful attention.

— Nicole Huberfeld

Library Journal
Olson (Lehigh Univ.; The Political Economy of Aging) brings her expertise in social welfare policy to bear in this careful but trenchant critique of Medicaid, America's program to provide medical services to Americans who are severely economically disadvantaged. Olson traces Medicaid's history, showing how the program's scope, funding, and aims change with the political winds blowing in Washington and clearly reflecting how various political camps attempt to put their ideological stamp on this medical safety net. The book also shows the ways that the medical lobbies have shaped benefit programs over time to their interests. Olson is clear that she believes the only way to grant equality is to have a single-payer system, a conclusion carefully grounded in her historical analysis. VERDICT Revealing the long history of current debates over the government's role in health care, this book will be essential reading for serious students of political science and health politics.—Aaron Klink, Duke Univ., Durham, NC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231150606
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
05/31/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Deborah Stone

Wow! A book that does exactly what its title promises—captures the politics of the policy of Medicaid. No other work does so as comprehensively and with such sharp insight and purpose. Laura Katz Olson weaves every detail into an overarching struggle between those who would strengthen Medicaid's ability to provide health care for the poor and those who would weaken it. The Politics of Medicaid will be the bible for political scientists and policy analysts alike.

Deborah Stone

Wow! A book that does exactly what its title promises—captures the politics of the policy of Medicaid. No other work does so as comprehensively and with such sharp insight and purpose. Laura Katz Olson weaves every detail into an overarching struggle between those who would strengthen Medicaid's ability to provide health care for the poor and those who would weaken it. The Politics of Medicaid will be the bible for political scientists and policy analysts alike.

Deborah Stone, Dartmouth College

Jon Hendricks

In a deftly crafted chef d'oeuvre, Laura Katz Olson shines a lantern on the largest medical insurance plan in the land. Though Medicaid accounts for a full 7 percent of the federal budget, it remains the stepchild of welfare provisions in the United States, and perceptions of it provide a looking glass into American values. Getting past the surlies in managed-care companies often places those in need on the outside looking in, subjected to the invisible foot of the medical marketplace. Olson's savvy analysis of medical welfare's arcane policies reminds readers that many of us are but one crushing medical bill away from the same fate. Her insights paint Medicaid as a bit of a shell game between federal and state policies, one that would make Rube Goldberg proud. Truly a medalist performance and a must read as we take the next step toward national coverage.

Jill Quadagno

In this fascinating and beautifully written book, Laura Katz Olson untangles the complex web of policies and programs that make up Medicaid, the least understood program in the American welfare state. The timing couldn't be better, because Medicaid expansion is a key component of health care reform. Although the uninsured will certainly benefit, Olson makes clear that the providers and contractors who feed off the 'medical industrial complex' may benefit even more. The Politics of Medicaid should be required reading for every health policy course.

Meet the Author

Laura Katz Olson is professor of political science at Lehigh University. Among her seven books are The Political Economy of Aging: The State, Private Power, and Social Welfare; Aging and Public Policy: The Politics of Growing Old in America; Age Through Ethnic Lenses: Caring for the Elderly in a Multicultural Society; and The Not So Golden Years: Caregiving, the Frail Elderly, and the Long-Term Care Establishment. She has published widely in the field of aging, health care, and women's studies and has lectured on Social Security, Medicare, and long-term care policy.

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