Cries of CrisisRethinking the Health Care Debate$26.95Author: Robert B. HackeyFormat: Paper
Published Date: 2015
Since the late 1960s, health care in the United States has been described as a system in crisis. No matter their position, those seeking to improve the system have relied on the rhetoric of crisis to build support for their preferred remedies, to the point where the language and imagery of a health care crisis are now deeply embedded in contemporary politics and popular culture.
In Cries of Crisis, Robert B. Hackey analyzes media coverage, political speeches, films, and television shows to demonstrate the role that language and symbolism have played in framing the health care debate, shaping policy making, and influencing public perceptions of problems in the health care system. He demonstrates that the idea of crisis now means so many different things to so many different groups that it has ceased to have any shared meaning at all. He argues that the ceaseless talk of “crisis,” without a commonly accepted definition of that term, has actually impeded efforts to diagnose and treat the chronic problems plaguing the American health care system. Instead, he contends, reformers must embrace a new rhetorical strategy that links proposals to improve the system with deeply held American values like equality and fairness.
Robert B. Hackey is a professor of health policy and management at Providence College. He is the author of Rethinking Health Care Policy: The New Politics of State Regulation and others.
“‘Crisis’ is the most overused word in the English language, and, as Bob Hackey explains so impressively in his book, it is getting in the way of the kind of constructive debate and progress that we should be making on the health care front. Nearly sixty million Americans—most of them working or members of working families—don’t have a dime of health insurance. Millions more are trying to deal with huge deductibles, and we are paying double what the other advanced industrialized nations of the world are paying for their health care. This isn’t another crisis—it’s a chronic condition that must be fixed.” —Governor Michael Dukakis
“Interpreting American health politics through the lens of crisis rhetoric is one of the freshest, most innovative approaches ever. . . [Hackey] shows the detrimental consequences of conducting policy debates in crisis rhetoric—something that others have pronounced upon in op-eds but never examined so fully.” —Deborah Stone, author of Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making
"Offering a very different perspective on healthcare issues, 'Cries of Crisis' is a strong addition to any social issues debate collection, much recommended." —Midwest Book Review's Library Bookwatch, Reviewer's Choice
“. . . this book is very well written and will appeal to individuals interested in health policy, health communications, mass media, and popular culture. It is accessibly written with humor and a little flair, making it attractive to graduate and undergraduate students alike.” —Social Science Journal
“Hackey does us a valuable service by bringing the long term, big picture of public discourse into focus. . .Cries of Crisis restages how to think about contemporary healthcare discourse by providing a much-needed historical perspective. The atmosphere of crisis we operate in is old, very stable, and seems well designed to produce nothing but more crisis rhetoric. That is an important contribution.” —Rhetoric & Public Affairs