Is The Affordable Care Act the Same As Obamacare?
The media tends to give nicknames to big news stories. Examples include Weinergate, Monicagate, Irangate, and any other political scandal that they can paste the suffix –gate to. All of those are inspired by the Watergate scandal which led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. When it came time to find a catchy name for the Affordable Care Act, Mitt Romney showed a teeny, tiny bit more originality, though not that much, really. He settled for Obamacare (get it? Healthcare, Obama, Obamacare). Although he meant it pejoratively, the name actually stuck to the point it took a life of its own.
In fact, the term Obamacare has become such a separate entity that many people actually think that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an entirely different thing. As it turns out, poll respondents have gone as far as to claim that they are against Obamacare, but that they support the Affordable Care Act’s provisions. And they do it with a straight face, totally unaware of the contradiction. This disconnect may be caused by the fact that the name Obamacare is automatically linked to the President in people’s minds. What hasn’t occurred to them is that disliking the President and supporting the healthcare reform are not mutually exclusive.
It’s nothing new that ignorance is the source of conflict, but ignorance doesn’t cut it as an excuse. As Milan Kundera points out in his masterpiece The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Oedipus didn’t know that he had killed his father and married his mother, but once he found out he stabbed his eyes out and went into exile. This is not a subtle means to call the American public ignorant, especially when so many of them have made the effort to educate themselves on their healthcare options.
However, there still remains a large sector that is against the healthcare law solely because of a nomenclature mix-up. A single word, nay, a single letter can lead to confusion the likes of which have not been seen since the Tower of Babel (e.g., the government shutdown). The Affordable Care Act has already had its share of myths built around it, such as the infamous ‘death panels’ (though the fact that that came out of Sarah Palin’s mouth should be enough to debunk it). Other false notions are the ACA and Congress being exempted from the reform, and illegal aliens receiving free healthcare. If you thought the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare weren’t one and the same, then you still have a lot to learn. Ring the bell, school’s back in.