By Stuart Altman and David Shactman
Prometheus Books, $26.00, 430 pages

I was really miffed at Obama for throwing us under the bus by giving away first Single Payer and then the Public Option, and finally passing a good, but way less than perfect, health care reform law. That was before reading Power, Politics and Universal Health Care. The authors have thoroughly disabused me of the notion that Obama could have produced perfect health care legislation.

The sub title is: The inside story of a century long battle. The inside part comes from Stuart Altman, one of the authors, who has been involved in many administrations either as an official or as an advisor and was involved in the Obama effort as well. Each of the attempts for expanded health care is chronicled in a way that exposes the barriers to progress, which are many.

The upshot is, that it takes an almost perfect storm of power, leadership, and perseverance to pass anything through the U.S. Congress, let alone something as complicated as health care reform.

This is an important book. It explains the multitude of details, trade offs and out and out bribery required to understand the struggle involved in the fight for universal healthcare.

Norman West

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