For Immediate Release –

February 15, 2012

Media contact: Heather Trela - (518) 443-5831 or

As Supreme Court Prepares to Hear Arguments on Health Reform, New Book Reveals Behind-the-Scenes Efforts that Led to Law’s Passage

Author, activist and health-reform advocate Richard Kirsch available to share insider’s perspective

Albany, N.Y. — The presidential campaign and a current Supreme Court case are keeping the two-year-old Affordable Care Act in the forefront of our national conversation. Few people are in a better position than Richard Kirsch to tell how health-care reform came to be the law of the land, and what its passage means for American politics and policy.

Kirsch spent three years on the front lines of the fight to pass health reform legislation as head of the largest pro-reform coalition in the country, working inside the Washington, D.C. Beltway – alongside and sometimes at odds with the Obama administration – and with grassroots activists across the country.

In a new book from the Rockefeller Institute Press (distributed by SUNY Press), Kirsch describes how his group, Health Care for America Now, worked with other progressive organizations to achieve that goal. Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States is a vivid, first-person account that brings readers inside the biggest and most consequential issue campaign in American history. The book recounts how grassroots organizers played a crucial role in congressional passage and President Obama's signing of historic health reform legislation in March 2010 — defeating powerful industry lobbies and Tea Party activists.

The book describes the tense relationship between progressives and the Obama administration, as the President and his team both pushed for reform and made repeated concessions to the health care industry, while trying to squelch any pressure from the left.

Kirsch is available for interviews about the book and to share his thoughts on the status of health reform legislation and on grassroots organizations’ current role in pushing for reforms. An interview with Kirsch is posted online here.

To request a review copy of Fighting for Our Health, contact Michael Cooper at (518) 443-5257 or at The e-reader version takes advantage of an abundance of video, images and documents to supplement the text, and functions much like a mobile device app, with 250 links. The website, , includes more than 600 online sources, so readers can view the events and people Kirsch writes about.


What people are saying about Fighting for Our Health:

"Richard Kirsch's book is the rarest of combinations: an insider look at American politics that instructs as well as entertains."
Jacob S. Hacker, Professor of Political Science, Yale University, and co-author, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class

"Finally, a book about intrigue and politics in Washington that has relevance for Americans outside the beltway, written by someone who is actually in a position to know what really happened."
Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont

"This is the book to read for the inside story about the grass-roots campaign for health care reform... Richard Kirsch tells that story with passion and insight — and with important lessons for organizers of all kinds."
Paul Starr, Pulitzer Prize winner, Princeton University professor and author of Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle Over Health Care Reform

"Fighting for Our Health is a thoroughly enjoyable, enlightening read... that should be on the shelves of every activist in the country and will be a staple of college courses for many years."
Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics at Occidental College and author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame

“It is an inspiring story, especially when Richard leaves Washington, and tells the personal stories of the staff and volunteers who, in so many states, gave so much of themselves to make this legislation possible.”
Marc Stier, blogger, Marc Stier at Large

“You don’t have to be a political junkie to become involved in this story of how advocacy gets done. The book contains many fascinating details on a range of issues, from forming alliances to coordinating messaging and generating influence.”
Book Reviews, American Journal of Radiology

About the Book:

Published by the Rockefeller Institute Press, distributed by SUNY Press.

Paperback $19.95
416 pages
Release date: February 2012
ISBN13: 978-1-930912-24-3

Ebook $19.95
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-4349-2

More information and supplementary materials, including video, photos and documents, are available at The book and e-book can be ordered online at

About Richard Kirsch:

Richard Kirsch is an Institute Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, focused on federal and state implementation of health reform, and a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He served as national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now (HCAN) from 2008 to 2010. As HCAN’s chief spokesman, he frequently appeared in major national news media. From 1985 to 2008, Kirsch served as executive director of Citizen Action of New York, a grassroots citizens’ organization with 20,000 members and seven offices in New York.

About the Rockefeller Institute of Government

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, at the University at Albany, is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. The Institute conducts fiscal and programmatic research on American state and local governments.

About SUNY Press

As an acclaimed international publisher of distinguished research and notable works of general interest since 1966, SUNY Press supports the commitments of the State University of New York to teaching, research and public service. Capitalizing on the latest advances in digital communication, the Press offers an innovative range of print and electronic publications to fulfill the evolving needs of scholars, students, authors and readers.