“Obamacare” started life as a derogatory term, a political slur of sorts.
It became the Republican Party’s shorthand for the Affordable Care Act, legislation aimed at offering insurance for millions of Americans lacking health care coverage, requiring most to have it and requiring big employers to provide it, an act that President Barack Obama sought and signed into law in 2010 early in his first term. House Republicans opposed it from the start, and have voted to repeal it 40 times.
The Republicans didn’t copyright the term, however.
“Jeanne Schulte Scott argued for the trade journal Healthcare Financial Management in March 2007 that then-President Bush had `put all his eggs into his ‘privatization’ basket.’ In his 2007 State of the Union address; nevertheless, he made health care the “issue du jour” for the 2008 presidential race,” the Atlantic Wire has noted. “The many would-be candidates for president in 2008 are falling over themselves offering their own proposals. We will soon see a `Giuliani-care’ and `Obama-care’ to go along with `McCain-care,’ `Edwards-care,’ and a totally revamped and remodeled `Hillary-care’ from the 1990s.”
The more Republicans seized on the term in their criticism of the law, the more Obama learned to like it: He adopted it as a compliment.
He has repeatedly touted the advantages and did so again today: Longer coverage for children on their parents’ health plans, required coverage for those with pre-existing coverages, no lifetime caps on insurance benefits, rebates for customers of insurance companies spending too much on administrative costs and new exchanges opening for people seeking affordable care.
Now, as House Republicans attempt in vain to pull the financial plug on the program on the eve of enrollment in its health-care exchanges opening Oct. 1 (the Senate won’t go along with that, and Obama would never sign it), the president has a prediction about the Affordable Care Act:
“Once it’s working really well, I guarantee you, they will not call it `Obamacare.’”
The president, addressing a cheering campus crowd at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland, today, only used the term, Obamacare, 11 times. The recital that follows is a condensed rendering — the Obamacare hits of the speech:
“For the past few years, since I signed the Affordable Care Act, a lot of you have been enjoying new benefits and protections that you didn’t have before, even if you didn’t know they were coming from Obamacare,” Obama said.
“Tens of millions of Americans are already better off because of the benefits and protections provided by the Affordable Care Act,” he said “They may not know why that rebate check came in the mail. They may not notice that they’re not having to co-pay for some preventive care that they received. But they’re getting those benefits. That’s already happening; that’s already in place today. It’s been going on for several years. Those are the benefits of Obamacare, the law that Republicans want to repeal.”
“They don’t like Obamacare in theory, but some of the component parts, at least those that poll well, they don’t mind,” he said. “But that’s already in place.”
“But most of the stories you’ll hear about how Obamacare just can’t work is just not based on facts. Every time they have predicted something not working, it’s worked.”
“One of the biggest newspapers in the country recently published an editorial I thought was pretty good,” he said. “They said the Republicans in Congress are poisoning Obamacare, then trying to claim it’s sick.”
“Just the other day, one Republican in Congress said we need to shut this thing down before the marketplaces open and people get to see that they’ll be getting coverage and getting these subsidies, because — and — and I’m going to quote him here — he said, “It’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare…”
“And the closer we get, the more desperate they get,” he said. “I mean, over the last few weeks, the rhetoric has just been cranked up to a place I’ve never seen before. One congressman said that Obamacare is the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed.”
Some House Republicans are prepared to shut down the federal government over their insistence on “defunding” the program, he noted.
“I mean, whatever effect Obamacare might have on the economy is far less than even a few days of government shutdown…”
“Even if you believed that Obamacare somehow was going to hurt the economy, it won’t hurt the economy as bad as a government shutdown,” he said. “And by the way, the evidence is that it’s not going to hurt the economy. Obamacare is going to help the economy, and it’s going to help families and help business.”
“Here is a prediction for you. A few years from now, when people are using this to get coverage, and everybody’s feeling pretty good about all the choices and competition that they’ve got, there are going to be a whole bunch of folks who say, `Yeah, yeah, no, I always thought this provision was excellent. I — I voted — I voted for that thing.”’
“You watch,” Obama said. “It will not be called Obamacare.”