Date Approved

5-1-1997

Embargo Period

8-29-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations

Department

Public Relations & Advertising

College

College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

Shapiro, Steven

Subject(s)

Health maintenance organizations; Physicians--Job satisfaction

Disciplines

Public Relations and Advertising

Abstract

In November 1995, at a meeting of the Managed Health Care Congress, Harvard Medical School professor and physician Dr. David Himmelstein, delivered a presentation that included a slide of what he called the "gag clause" in his U.S. Healthcare contract. Dr. Himmelstein explained that he was being restricted in what he could say to his patients - three days later, U.S. Healthcare terminated his contract.

This event, coupled with Dr. Himmelstein's appearance two weeks later on the Donahue Show, sparked a flood of media attention and, in turn, a public outcry. Managed health care, designed to regulate and curtail growing health care costs, had restricted physician patient communications and ultimately threatened the physicians' role.

This study provides an historical report of the gag clause including (1) a description of its public unveiling and critical evaluation, (2) a review of related literature, and (3) a detailed report of the state and federal gag clause legislation.

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