Comic treatment for health plan
MIT econ whiz’s hip idea to explain overhaul
By Christine McConville / The Pulse
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - Updated 22 hours ago
The MIT economics whiz who crafted President Obama’s national health-care overhaul now plans to explain the complex and controversial plan to the masses — in one long comic book.
Jonathan Gruber, a nationally recognized health economist who devised the economic underpinnings of Obamacare (Gruber hates the term), said his three comic-loving kids encouraged him to use the hip format of the graphic novel — basically an expensive comic published in book form — to tell the story of the complicated plan to 300 million Americans.
Unlike most comic books, Gruber’s won’t have a superhero like Batman or Captain America or a villain like the Joker, he said.
“I’m going to use the facts to tell the story,” Gruber, 45, told the Pulse yesterday. “I’m the narrator guiding the reader through the law. It’ll have lots of pictures and text.”
Hill and Wang, a division of publishing powerhouse Farrar, Straus and Giroux, plans to release Gruber’s book, tentatively titled “Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How it Works” this fall.
It’s an unusual venture for Gruber, a brilliant Massachusetts Institute of Technology academic and a key architect of Romneycare, who spent much of the last decade telling national leaders why the American health-care system is broken, and how to fix it.
Now Gruber is breaking down the president’s 2,400-page legislation into illustrated, bite-sized panels for non-wonks who either don’t understand or don’t like the national plan.
“There’s a fundamental lack of economic security in our country,” Gruber said. “If you don’t get insurance from your employer, you are one bad gene, or one bad car accident away from losing everything.”
The graphic novel is an increasingly popular way to tell complex stories, according to Gruber’s editor Thomas LeBien, who has used the format to explain the U.S. Constitution and Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.