Obamacare Will Open the Next Chapter of “Free-Market” Health Care, Not End It, Says New Book by Health Law Expert
September 30, 2013
Dr. Robert I. Field is a nationally recognized expert on health policy and public health
The government cannot take over American health care because it has been running the system for decades, according to Drexel University’s Dr. Robert I. Field, a nationally recognized expert on health policy and public health. In a new book, he describes Obamacare as a natural next step in the country’s health care evolution rather than the government takeover that critics claim it to be.
The book, entitled Mother of Invention: How the Government Created “Free-Market” Health Care, is scheduled for release by Oxford University Press on Nov. 1. It is available for preorder from the publisher and from Amazon.
Field points out that the United States relies on private enterprise for its health care more than any other developed nation, creating the appearance of the free-market in action. And for more than a hundred years, attempts to reform the system, including Obamacare, have been met with warnings about the stifling effects of government intervention.
What these warnings overlook, Field argues, is the federal government’s longstanding role in guiding and supporting every aspect of American health care. He believes that its role is so pervasive and entrenched that it is easy to miss. In fact, Field maintains, the government actually created American health care as we know it today. Seminal public programs stand behind every segment of the large and hugely profitable health care industry.
Field's new book on the role of government
in health care will be released on Nov. 1
Obamacare follows in the same tradition, in Field’s view, by expanding the public foundation for private health care entrepreneurship and innovation. It extends an already massive partnership between the public and private spheres that has shaped all health care in the United States for decades.
Mother of Invention traces the government's role in building four key health care sectors into the financial powerhouses they are today: the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, the medical profession, and private insurance. Field explores their history, surveys their growth, and highlights some of their greatest success stories, which together reveal the pivotal importance of public initiatives in making these sectors what they are today.
He argues that only by understanding what actually drives our system can we appreciate possibilities for meaningful reform or comprehend the true context—historically and politically—of the Obama plan.
Field holds a joint appointment as a professor of law in Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law and a professor of health management and policy in Drexel’s School of Public Health. He also teaches health law at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His first book, Health Care Regulation in America: Complexity, Confrontation and Compromise, a comprehensive guide to the government's role in regulating health care, was published by Oxford University Press in 2006. Field also writes a regular blog, “The Field Clinic,” on health reform and health policy for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Prior to joining Drexel, Field founded and chaired the Department of Health Policy and Public Health at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. He has also conducted research at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, worked in health care management at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and practiced health law with the Philadelphia firm of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll.
Field received a doctorate in psychology from Boston University, a master’s degree in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health, a law degree from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard College.