Jonathan Cohn

Obama Embraces 'Obamacare'

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Obama said plenty of things at Monday's town hall in Minnesota that made me happy. But probably none pleased me more than his riff on the phrase "Obamacare," which is the way opponents generally refer to the Affordable Care Act. He gave it while answering a question about prescription drugs:

With respect to prescription drugs, the prescription drug program that now is part of Medicare obviously has been very helpful, but the costs had been going up and up and up. So part of the Affordable Care Act health care reform, also known as “Obamacare” -- by the way, you know what? Let me tell you, I have no problem with folks saying “Obama cares.” I do care. If the other side wants to be the folks who don’t care, that’s fine with me.

Obamacare has obviously taken on a less charitable meaning, given the law's unpopularity and frequent invocation by its critics. But I've frequently used the term because I think the Affordable Care Act is a good law -- and that Obama deserves credit for it. My only complaint, really, is that the term doesn't spread credit broadly enough. Pelosicare? Baucuscare? Kennedycare? I could make a case for any of these.

On a more serious note, Obama's statement is a good reminder that the Republicans who propose to repeal the Affordable Care Act don't have an alternative that would come anywhere close to achieving what that law will -- namely, providing insurance to more than 30 million people who otherwise wouldn't have it, strengthening coverage for everybody who has it, and reforming payment systems to reduce costs without sacrificing financial protection. 

You might even say that the alternative to Obamacare is "no care."

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