ObamaCare Is Not A Real Word, Fox News

In its attempts to criticize efforts to obfuscate the Affordable Care Act, Fox News fails to realize that "ObamaCare" is not an official or real name.

State sites like Covered California don't need to mention Obamacare

Affordable Care Act agencies like Covered California don't need to mention the term Obamacare, since it's not a real term. (Screen grab)

There are many reasons to criticize the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, known to many as the Affordable Care Act and the nickname Obamacare.  The lack of certainty, the various tax rules that only add confusion, and the overall question of whether it will save anyone money since the actual cost of medicine was never questioned are valid arguments.  However, Fox News misses the mark in its criticisms in a rather silly way: It claims that states around the country are avoiding references to the word "ObamaCare" in rolling out their versions of the law, because of its unpopularity.  There is just one problem with this argument: ObamaCare, or even Obamacare, are not official or real words, just nicknames.

Many attribute the term "Obamacare" in its original form to health care lobbyist Jeanne Schulte Scott in 2007, who was discussing on the prospects of health care reform for the various presidential candidates at the time for the trade journal Healthcare Financial Management.  Scott mentioned "Obama-care" alongside other possible forms of health care reform, including a revised HillaryCare (another nickname for the 1994 attempt to introduce universal healthcare) and others such as "Edwards-care" "Giuliani-care."  It's hard to imagine what that last one would look like.  Then presidential candidate Mitt Romney, developer of his own RomneyCare in earlier part of the 2000s, would use the term "Obamacare" later that year to accuse Democratic candidates of socialism.

However, the term "Obama-care" was merely a nickname or placeholder for whatever law was developed.  The term in its current form did not reappear until the health care reform debate began in earnest in 2009, when two Republicans, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and then-congressman Roy Blunt of Missouri referenced an article from the right-wing opinion section of the Wall Street Journal in naming the reform "Obamacare," placing it on the congressional record.  The name stuck in right-wing circles, with Republicans frequently using it to attack even the resulting Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that got signed into law by giving it the name Obamacare.

However, in no part of the law itself is the Affordable Care Act referred to as "Obamacare," meaning the term is just a nickname.  Therefore, states are under no obligation to refer to their implementation of the Affordable Care Act as Obamacare.  There is no need to refer to a law by its nickname, and would in fact be impolite, since that in it and of itself would confuse people.  Looking at some of the sites of states who have begun to implement the law, the law itself is identified by its full legal name, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or by its shortened name Affordable Care Act, since the former contains a lot of words.  That is because that is what the law is officially called, not ObamaCare as Fox News called it. 

The only reason for a state to mention the Affordable Care Act as Obamacare (or ObamaCare) is to incite needless rage by some right-wing elements who, despite having plenty to criticize about, would rather just attack the law as being some law that Obama made to control the country and kill grandma.  Granted, that is Fox News' target audience, and thus the reason why they would report on something like this.  But it's still wrong.

View Comments

Recommended For You