How We’ll Stop Calling it Obamacare (or Anything Else)

A “townhall” meeting in Maryland about the Affordable Care Act (my emphasis):

But politics — so entwined with the health law in Washington — barely came up in the 90-minute discussion. The term Obamacare was not uttered. Neither was Democrat nor Republican. The only mention of the president was during a brief history of the law’s passage. The only political comment came from a senior citizen who said that he likes some pieces of the law — the age 26 provision and pre-existing condition coverage — but demanded to know if people realize that it also raises taxes.

Hey, it’s one meeting, one report of one meeting, who knows. But here’s what I said (last summer, but I’ve been saying it from the start):

If ACA survives and is implemented and basically works, then it will eventually lose its name…any name. The exchanges will be called whatever they’re called, and the various other pieces of it may have names (so we’ll have the IPAB), but most people and even most politicians won’t associate that stuff with the ACA or Obamacare. No one will think to call Medicaid expansion anything; it’ll just be how Medicaid is. No one will have a name for the subsidies, any more than we have a legislative name for the mortgage interest tax subsidy. We’ll have serious mistakes, too: people won’t remember what was ACA and what was previous policy and what was in subsequent legislation.

Is this the first step on the road to ACA becoming invisible? We’ll see, and I’ll be tracking it.

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.