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Cries of Crisis

Rethinking the Health Care Debate

Robert B. Hackey

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Nevada Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-xi

As my interest in rhetoric evolved to include depictions of crisis in televised medical dramas, movies, and advertising, I found myself writing a different book than I had originally intended. My efforts to make sense of the health care crisis led me to explore new literatures in popular culture, critical theory, and the sociology of...

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Introduction: Constructing the Health Care Crisis

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pp. 1-13

The language and imagery of a health care crisis are now firmly embedded in contemporary politics and popular culture. For decades, warnings of an emerging crisis provided a rationale for widespread changes in provider payments, medical malpractice claims, and eligibility for public health insurance programs. Crisis...

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1. The Rhetoric of Health Care Reform

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pp. 14-26

The rapid shift in public sentiment raises several significant questions. Why did the rhetoric of crisis take root in the late 1960s? What led to such a dramatic shift in sentiment in such a short period of time? What political, economic, and social circumstances contributed to a growing belief that the health care...

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2. The Cost Crisis

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pp. 27-50

Such narratives of a looming crisis are familiar but represent only one face of American attitudes toward health care costs. Despite the ubiquity of crisis talk among health reformers and the mass media, a different policy narrative appeared during each debate over controlling health care costs from the 1960s to the present...

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3. The Medical Malpractice Crisis

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pp. 51-83

The debate over malpractice reform over the past four decades illustrates Wittgenstein’s discussion of the “unintended misuse” of language. Rather than engaging in a serious dialogue about how to reduce the rate of malpractice and preventable medical errors, the principal characters in each...

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4. The Nurse Staffing Crisis

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pp. 84-101

As a political symbol, the nursing crisis plays on public anxieties. Illness is a stressful time for most individuals and their families. Crisis talk targeted the fears of vulnerable patients and families who worried that care would not be available when they were sick or unable to care for themselves. Each time the nursing labor...

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5. The Health Insurance Crisis

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pp. 102-130

Crisis narratives appeared in a variety of different settings, including political campaigns, legislative debates, news coverage, popular magazines, and televised documentaries. The narrators of this story varied, and included political candidates, interest-group representatives, reporters, and even characters in popular...

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6. A Second Opinion

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pp. 131-140

The cries of crisis that framed public deliberation over health care reform since the late 1960s contributed to a dysfunctional discourse. Crisis, as it is used to frame health care debates, is an example of what George Orwell termed a “meaningless word” that lacks precision. Neither those who use the...


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pp. 141-159


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pp. 161-170


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pp. 171-174

E-ISBN-13: 9780874178906
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874178890

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2012