Taking back ‘Obamacare’?
In the political conversation about health-care reform, the term “Obamacare” is almost always used as a pejorative, hurled at the law in long floor speeches and short political ads deriding the Affordable Care Act.
Now, health reform’s staunchest supporters want to change that. Today, two Colorado-based groups are launching “Thanks Obamacare!,” a new site and campaign to promote the health reform law. There’s even a video that ticks off 10 benefits of the health reform law with heavy reliance on the word Obamacare:
“Over the course of the passage of the law, Obamacare has been turned into a little bit of a dirty word,” says Serena Woods, strategic engagement director at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, one of the two groups behind the site. “This is something that keeps people from getting kicked off health insurance and keeps women from being discriminated against. We wanted to highlight all those great things.”
Health reform supporters have had a bit of a mixed relationship with the term “Obamacare.” Most have eschewed the term in favor of “health reform” or “the Affordable Care Act.” Some have attempted to co-opt the word, although not necessarily with a full embrace. Both the Obama administration and pro-health-reform groups have purchased Google ads to steer those searching for the term to their sites. President Obama himself nearly waded into the discussion this summer. “I have no problem with folks saying ‘Obama cares,’ ” he would say on the campaign trail this summer. “I do care.”
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn has stood out as a strong backer of the law who embraces the term openly, and has supported the president doing so as well. I e-mailed him this morning to ask him to explain his word choice. The question, he wrote back, is a “political” one.
“It seems to me that Obama is going to be associated with this law, for better or worse, come November,” Cohn continues. “Even if he wants to play it down, his critics will play it up. Given that, I assume he’s better off embracing that association — and reminding people what’s good about the law. He’s been doing a lot of that lately, as I imagine you’ve noticed.”
Cohn says he gets some flak for the term, which he concedes is not an ideal one: “Medicare,” signed by President Lyndon Johnson, never had to deal with a clunky “Johnsoncare” moniker. But he’ll keep using it. “I like the law and I’d like to see the people responsible for it get credit,” he writes.