The PPACA and its companion Reconciliation Act soon will be the subject of a graphic novel (grown-up comic book) to be authored by MIT health economist Jonathan Gruber. The book, tentatively to be titled “Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How it Works,” is expected to be published in the fall. It will be interesting to see how the lengthy and complex federal law translates into an illustrated narrative and I look forward to reading it.
Tackling difficult subject matter is nothing new for the graphic novel. Writer Sid Jacobson and illustrator Ernie Colon did a brilliant job in “The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaption.” This sub-genre of the graphic novel commonly is tracked back to “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale,” in which Art Spiegelman addressed the Holocaust in illustrated format through his own family’s stories, using animals (mice, rats, dogs) instead of human forms.
In this particular instance the author will have a decidely pro-reform slant. Gruber helped design the Massachusetts health care reform system, which has been in place since 2006, and according to an interview with the Boston Herald he plans to illustrate how PPACA will lower health-care costs and curb insurance industry abuses.
The ability of PPACA to flatten or lower rapidly increasing health care costs is only hypothetical at this point, so I am curious to see how Professor Gruber boils this issue down. He warned in his interview with the Herald that there won’t be any superheroes or villains in the book, but in the real world supernatural forces may be necessary to bend the ever-increasing cost curve.