The new health reform law is a beast. In original form, it was more than 2,000 pages. Once the regulatory details are added, it will probably be more like 200,000 pages. Polls indicate that the majority of Americans do not know what it is about, and one-third of retirees still believe there are government death panels.
Landmark: The Inside Story of America's New Health Care Law and What It Means for Us All (PublicAffairs, $12.95) is an attempt to sort it all out. The first two parts of the book are written by Washington Post staff members. It attempts to give a CliffsNotes version of the politics that spawned the law, including how President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi overcame substantial odds to pass it. The second part does a great job of explaining how the key provisions affect the major stakeholders: employers, insurers, healthcare providers and healthcare consumers.
The final part is for the true health-policy wonks: an attempt to rewrite the act into understandable language section-by-section. It is as exciting as reading the dictionary.
The New York Times has produced a similar book; both newspapers have essentially cranked out the first draft of history for big news stories. In this case, The Post staff succeeded.