Book Recommends Ways to Improve Congressional Performance in Health Policy

Study of congressional health policy development

Norman J. Ornstein, PhD of the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, and Thomas E. Mann, PhD of the Brookings Institution, Washington, wrote a book, Intensive Care: How Congress Shapes Health Policy (AEI/Brookings, 1995), about how Congress could improve its work in health policy.

This effort was part of the Renewing Congress project, a joint venture of the two institutes, which conducted independent research to inform the work of the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress.

Congress authorized the Committee to conduct a major examination of its workings.

Key Recommendations

  • The book's authors recommended that Congress improve its performance in health care policy by:

    • Creating new committee jurisdictions and using an ad hoc committee to consider and craft health care legislation.
    • Altering the budget reconciliation process to give committees such as Ways and Means more leeway to craft policies to fit under prescribed budget limits.
    • Clarifying the role of Congressional oversight in shaping health policy, which mandates retention of an analytic capacity.
    • Facilitating deliberation by conducting regular debates on larger issues.

The book was well reviewed by the Journal of the American Medical Association and a number of political science journals.