POLS 497-2 Small Group Study, Fall 2008

Politics of Health Policy



Myong-Hwa Lee                                                              Class Information

Office: DU 222 (SOCQRL lab)                                         Class Time: T 7-8:30 PM

Office Hours: only by appointment                                    Room: DU 466

E-mail: Z111890@niu.edu



Course Description


As Presidential election debates demonstrate in this year, health care system is one of the heated policy debate issues. This course is designed to discuss various perspectives regarding health policy, focusing on policy-makers, such as legislators, presidents, interest groups, and bureaucrats.

We will read Weissert and Weissert (2006)’ Governing Health: The Politics of Health Policy as a primary textbook. The book explains how each actor has involved and played roles in health care policies. In addition to historical facts, it gives us theoretical frameworks to help understand policy-making processes of health care system.

What is the problem of the U.S. health care system? How has a federal or state government attempted to improve health care system? Who and how has played a crucial role in health policy-making? What would be the best policy alternative for better health care system in the future? We will discuss these questions.

Since POLS 497 is a discussion-oriented class of a very small size, students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of the subject through active class participation. In addition, students will write and turn in a short essay each class meeting.



Required Text


Weissert, Carol S. and Weissert, William G. 2006. Governing Health: The Politics of Health Policy. 3rd ed. Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore


*** The book is available on-line. Search this book in NIU E-brary. Otherwise, use the following URL link. You can download and print out the assigned chapters of this course. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/niluniv/Top?channelName=niluniv&cpage=1&f00=text&frm=smp.x&hitsPerPage=20&id=10188513&layout=document&p00=governing+health&sortBy=score&sortOrder=desc




Active discussion is an important component of this course and will count for 50% of the final grade. In each class meeting, you should bring a couple of issues that you want to discuss in class.



*** I will NOT accept any late papers. If you want an exception, you must notify me in advance and/or bring documentation of your emergency.



1) Nine Short Essays

At the beginning of each session (except the first) students will have to turn in a brief essay (no more than 2 pages) on the topics assigned each week. For each essay, students should focus on the topics listed in the Course Outline in this syllabus. Students can use readings as evidence for their assertions, but they have to make their own arguments (* Do not merely repeat readings.) Essays should be double-spaced, have 12 point font and one-inch margins.



2) Final Paper

At the end of the semester students should submit a double-spaced 5 page paper (no more than 5 pages) on one topic discussed in class. Students can develop their essays into final paper by providing more evidence gained from various sources, i.e. academic articles, newspapers, governmental documents, etc. Your paper may use any regular format for citations. The essay is due by 1 p.m. on Nov.25. Please turn in it via email.






Participation (including attendance) – 50%

Nine Short Essays – 40% (5% per each)

*** The lowest grade among your essay grades will not be included.

Final Paper – 10%




Course Outline



Session 1 (Sept. 9) - Introduction and Distribution of Syllabi 



Session 2 (Sept. 16) – Ch.1 Congress (page 15 – 43)

*** Topic – Which theories of committee (p.32) you think is the most plausible in explaining health policy? Why?



Session 3 (Sept. 23) – Ch.1 Congress (page 43 – 80)

*** Topic – What affects congressional decision-making in health issues?

Session 4 (Sept. 30) – Ch.2 The Presidency (page 81 – 125)

*** Topic – What’s the roles of the president in health policy process?


Session 5 (Oct. 7) – Ch. 3 Interest Groups (page 126 – 149)

*** Topic – Why are interest groups organized in health issues?



Session 6 (Oct. 14) – Ch. 3 Interest Groups (page 149 – 182)

*** Topic – How do interest groups influence health decision-making?



Session 7 (Oct. 21) – Ch. 4 Bureaucracy (page 183 – 230)

*** Topic – What’s the roles of bureaucrats in health policy process?



Session 8 (Oct. 28) – Ch. 5 States and Health Care Reform (page 250 – 297)

*** Topic – How are the roles of state governments different from the one of federal government in health policy?






Session 9 (Nov. 11) – Ch. 6 The Policy Process (page 301 – 342)

*** Topic – Which theories of policy change (p. 339) you think is the most plausible in explaining health policy? Why?



Session 10 (Nov. 18) – Ch. 7 Problem to Policy (page 343 – 384)

*** Topic – What do you think is the major problem of the current U.S. health system?



Nov. 25 – Final Paper is due by 1 p.m.