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An indictment of America's current health-care system by the former HEW Secretary. Unfortunately, Califano, after his stint in Washington, discovered what God--under the aegis of Lyndon Banes Johnson--had wrought with the liberalization of health-care programs under the Great Society. On the other side of the fence separating government and Corporate America, he was educated by Lee Iacocca on how health-care rip-offs and concessions to unions in this area were gradually killing Chrysler Corp. (The automaker's health-care costs came to $460 million in 1984.) The consumer was getting squeezed from both ends--faced with mounting medical costs, and higher stickers for cheaply made cars (Detroit passing on its increased medical costs). And this was mirroring a problem facing business as a whole. Califano's ""revolution,"" however, is a prescription for the future (and a dose that the health business et al. might find hard to tolerate). While not exactly reflecting Moliere's aphorism that ""nearly all men die of their medicines, not of their diseases,"" Califano nevertheless says that the first step is to replace the current ""sick-care system"" with preventive health-care, kindled by doctors, and stoked by individuals looking out for themselves. As an example, he cites how life-style changes--e.g., less red meat, fewer cigarettes--had reduced coronary disease deaths 25% in only 15 years. Imploring American businesses large and small to set up opportunities for exercise for their employees, he further recommends that schools declare themselves smoke-free zones. All enclosed public places would also become forbidden zones for the demon fag. This ""new social compact"" might be as much pie-in-the-sky dreaming as some of the programs that contributed to the problem in the first place. But if it tickles a few movers' and shakers' sensitivities with its thoughtful exposition, a hesitant first step might be made toward a saner health-care system.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1986
Publisher: Random House