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America's Bitter Pill Audiobook

America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System

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Publisher's Summary

America's Bitter Pill is Steven Brill's much-anticipated, sweeping narrative of how the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was written, how it is being implemented, and, most important, how it is changing - and failing to change - the rampant abuses in the healthcare industry. Brill probed the depths of our nation's healthcare crisis in his trailblazing Time magazine Special Report, which won the 2014 National Magazine Award for Public Interest. Now he broadens his lens and delves deeper, pulling no punches and taking no prisoners.

It's a fly-on-the-wall account of the fight, amid an onslaught of lobbying, to pass a 961-page law aimed at fixing America's largest, most dysfunctional industry - an industry larger than the entire economy of France.

It's a penetrating chronicle of how the profiteering that Brill first identified in his Time cover story continues, despite Obamacare.

And it is the first complete, inside account of how President Obama persevered to push through the law, but then failed to deal with the staff incompetence and turf wars that crippled its implementation.

Brill questions all the participants in the drama, including the president, to find out what happened and why.

He asks the head of the agency in charge of the Obamacare website how and why it crashed.

And he tells the cliffhanger story of the tech wizards who swooped in to rebuild it.

Brill gets drug lobbyists to open up on the deals they struck to protect their profits in return for supporting the law.

And he buttresses all these accounts with meticulous research and access to internal memos, emails, notes, and journals written by the key players during all the pivotal moments.

Brill is there with patients when they are denied cancer care at a hospital, or charged $77 for a box of gauze pads. Then he asks the multimillion-dollar executives who run the hospitals to explain why.

©2015 Steven Brill (P)2015 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"A landmark study, filled with brilliant reporting and insights, that shows how government really works - or fails to work." (Bob Woodward)

"America's Bitter Pill is deeply impressive, an important diagnosis of what America needs to know if we’re ever to develop a healthcare system that is fair, efficient, and effective." (Tom Brokaw)

"In America's Bitter Pill, Steven Brill brilliantly ties together not only the saga of Obamacare, but also the larger story of our dysfunctional healthcare system and its disastrous impact on both businesses and ordinary Americans. In a gripping narrative, his thorough reporting is made all the more powerful by his own scary experience looking up from a gurney."( Arianna Huffington)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-14-15 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good facts but sometimes one sided conclusions"

    It had some good information although not particularly revelatory if you were at all politically aware during the implementation of the ACA. Personally I feel the author did every sort of logical (or non-logical) mental gymnastics to come to the conclusion that is spite of all of the problems with its passage and implementation, the country is better off because of the ACA , and now all we have to do is pass more regulations through, for example, the FTC so that we really fix health care for good. I tried to keep an open mind during this story but still come to the opposite conclusion. In spite of the authors attempt to convince me otherwise, I think the ACA is and will make America worse off in the long run. Regardless of my opinion about the ACA,
    the book itself was decent.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DaWoolf Sutton, MA 03-02-15
    DaWoolf Sutton, MA 03-02-15 Member Since 2015

    I'm just a dumb troglodyte who like reading. Me feel good after I read book.

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    "The agony and ecstasy of Obamacare"

    Steven Brill provides a critical analysis of the development and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Brill starts with the 2008 Democratic Primary, where Barak Obama seemed underprepared to provide a substitutive healthcare plan compared to Hillary Clinton. Recognizing his short-comings, Obama launches himself into the issue that will serve to define his legacy. Brill provides the details on the political deals, players, compromises, and negotiations that allowed the ACA to become law.

    Brill does an expert job to describing the ACA registration rollout fiasco and the herculean efforts needed to create a functional enrollment website under immense political pressure. There are also numerous stories of ordinary people with significant health conditions and how they were affected by the ACA.

    The problem with America’s Bitter Pill (ABP) is the big take away, although universal health coverage is terrific the ACA lacks the regulations to contain consumer costs. This issue is due to the fact that the ACA was written to protect the financial interests of insurance providers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment suppliers. ABP reminded me of Otto von Bismarck’s famously stated quote “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Somerset, Kentucky, United States 02-28-15
    Joseph Somerset, Kentucky, United States 02-28-15 Member Since 2011

    Tell us about yourself! Lifelong reader and passionate pursuer of knowledge. I love Audible because I never have to stop reading.

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    "Must read/listen"

    As a generalist physician who has spent the last 35 years inside the system, the exposure of the true guts of the system, was elucidating and disquieting. For administrators of this system to be paid so much more than those who actually deliver the care is disquieting too. Incentives are displaced badly.
    I do not know if Brill's suggestions at the end of the book would work, but they would allow true market forces to work on efficiency and competence.
    I finished the book enlightened and discouraged about the future of my profession.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew S. Breza 01-14-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great history, questionable solutions"

    Steven Brill offers the most complete history to date of the roll out of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). He gives a behind the scenes perspective that spares no one, be it Congressional Democrats who passed the ACA using back room deals, Republicans who opposed the law without offering an alternative, or the leaderless and bumbling effort by the Obama administration to implement health insurance exchanges. The book gives a solid, albeit opinionated, history until its end, where Brill steps out of his role as historian to speculate about how he would fix America's healthcare system if given the power. His prescriptions for success are interesting but unconvincing, giving an otherwise impressive bit of modern history a tepid coda.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James 02-13-15
    James 02-13-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Best Non-Fiction since Game Change"

    I read on average two books each week. Steven's brilliant style, clever approach and direct questioning is the heart of a book that should be part of the curriculum in high school civics/social studies classes. Truly enthralled with this work. Don't miss this because it effects everyone going forward for decades to come.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rashad Williams 05-28-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Comprehensive breakdown"

    Very good read, you'll learn a lot about the health care industry and ACA. But it is sad to know that we live in a country like this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Venkataraman Palabindala 05-22-16
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    "Must read for those who are in healthcare industry"

    Impressive details may be too much details about the process on ACA. Ending this great story on negative tone is not good understanding the fact that ACA is a mile stone. Change starts with a baby step and you talk about a sprint run in reform at the end. Details about big hospital systems is impressive. Some of the questions to president are not reasonable "in my personal opinion" - "declined to answer" questions could have been put it in one paragraph saying that "these questions are not answered! Overall this book gives a great insight on Whitehouse politics and USA healthcare economy. Healthcare is a right and health is responsibility and ACA is privilege to people who takes that responsibility to get that right. Hope for healthy America!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NMwritergal 05-02-16
    NMwritergal 05-02-16
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    "Super interesting--once you get past hour number 7"

    It was a bit of an understandable slog through the first 7 hours (drafting the bill, passing the law), but then it really picked up. Many others have written thoughtful reviews about this book so all I'll add is that I was really interested in the website debacle and that got plenty of "airplay."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul United States 04-22-16
    Paul United States 04-22-16 Member Since 2009

    PuppetMaster

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    "Excellent except for his lame solution."

    Naive analysis and recommendation in final chapter. This concept has been around for 30 years. Stick to reporting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    KEVIN PARKE 04-11-16
    KEVIN PARKE 04-11-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Messed up Health Care System"

    I liked the story, although I'm not sure I agree with the author's proposed solutions, but found it frustrating that our system is so messed up.

    Well researched

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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