Tag Archives: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Found: A Candidate Who Says “Affordable health care is a right.”

I’m happy to say that, thanks to Elizabeth Wilner of Cook Political, I’ve finally found a candidate willing to say that access to healthcare is a right! His name is Doug Gansler. You can watch him say “Affordable care is a right” in the campaign ad below:

Doug Gansler: the first honorary Framologist! Photo Credit: mdfriendofhillary via Compfight cc
Doug Gansler: the first honorary Framologist!
Photo Credit: mdfriendofhillary via Compfight cc

The attorney general (D) of Maryland, Mr. Gansler is running for governor. The primary election will take place on June 24. Marylanders should check out the Baltimore Sun’s election guide.

Wilner’s article reports on a conference of pollsters. She says that because about equal numbers of Americans like “keep and fix” as “repeal and replace,” Republican candidates are likely to change from talk of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to talk of fixing it.

She notes that talk of fixing would give Republican candidates “a simpler line than Democrats, who continue to grapple with how to support the ACA—or at least, counter Republican attacks—in their ads….” She says that Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) names three lines that Democratic candidates have taken:

  • Negative = positive: “[My Republican opponent] would deny coverage for preexisting conditions and/or let insurers charge women more for healthcare or mammograms.”
  • Partial pro: “[Democratic incumbent] held insurers accountable and/or ensured coverage of preexisting conditions and affordable access for women.”
  • Yay PPACA!: “helping the President pass healthcare reform”

Wilner found only four candidates nationwide that have cheered the Patient Protection Act in their advertising.

She correctly notes that Democratic candidates don’t have much time “to repair the negative impression people have about the law before Election Day.”

Here’s an example I’ve noticed in my state. Before the primary election, Republican candidates for all levels of office declared their opposition to “Obamacare” in TV ads.

And the Democratic candidates? I saw no ads from them on television at all. They seem to have let their opponents rule the airwaves and frame the healthcare reform debate their way for months. Will they learn from Doug Gansler?

No matter the primary outcome, for his fine framing of the healthcare reform issue and standing up to the bullies, Doug Gansler is now the first honorary Framologist. Congratulations!

Seeking Pro-healthcare Reform Ads

Andrew Prokop observes that hardly any campaign ads defend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act directly. I’m not surprised. The name Obamacare frames the issue as Obama rather than past problems with America’s healthcare system. In a sense, I’m glad there are no ads defending Obamacare: that name deserves no defense. Every TV ad I’ve seen for a Republican candidate says he wants to repeal Obamacare.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is about patient protection, not just affordability. Photo Credit: Anoto AB via Compfight cc
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is about patient protection, not just affordability.
Photo Credit: Anoto AB via Compfight cc

As I’ve said before, supporters of the law and/or President Obama should call the law by its name or shorten it to the Patient Protection Act and talk about how it protects the rights and health of patients. I continue to beat this drum because it’s so important to the mid-term election.

Do you know of any pro-Patient Protection Act ads? I’d love to see them!

How “Obamacare” Frames the Debate

Here’s an ugly example of why supporters of the Patient Protection Act should avoid the term Obamacare:

As you can see, the term directs attention away from the law’s moral purposes and toward Barack Obama the man. Continuing to call the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Obamacare encourages this sort of thinking and behavior.

“The Nebraska Democratic Party believes that affordable, accessible, quality health care is a basic human right.”

The Nebraska Democratic Party is asking the candidate to pull this ad. While the party’s statement deplores the violence against an image of the president, it does not mention the party’s platform position on the moral issue of access to health insurance: that “affordable, accessible, quality health care is a basic human right” (p. 39).

I wish it would. Why isn’t this truth being shouted from the housetops? Do you know?

Framing Markets, Part 2: Who Decides? What Do We Want?

How should progressives respond to the extreme conservative mantra,  Let the market decide!?

This slogan comes from the inaccurate view that markets justly mete rewards and punishments like the fundamentalist, strict-father version of God.

As noted before, from a progressive perspective, markets are tools to be used by Us the People for our benefit. If we were to let markets make important policy decisions for us, we would be like Don Quixote on his first sally. Seeking adventure, the would-be knight rode out of town and then let his horse decide where to go. The horse returned him to his barn, of course!

But at least his horse got him safely home. If we abandon ourselves to the judgment of “markets” without clear, consistently-enforced expectations for fair play and fair treatment of workers, customers, communities, animals, and the planet, the corporations that tend to dominate markets could be far crueler.

The effect of letting the market decide too often means that the two or three (sometimes only one) companies that dominate an industry decide for us what our options are. Insisting that the government, as the people’s servant, set rules to structure markets for our benefit, increases confidence in business and helps markets function in our interest.

Therefore, when extreme conservatives say to let “the market” decide, progressives should reply,What do we want markets to do for us?

But what do you think?

Framing the Free Market

In a 1999 essay in The Atlantic titled “The Market as God,” Harvey Cox brilliantly discusses  ways in which some Americans treat the idea of the free market as if it were a god. The problem is that, while markets certainly can be very influential, they are not gods and do not necessarily have people’s best interests at heart. In fact, they can seem heartless sometimes. But that doesn’t mean that markets are bad–just that deifying them is unwise.

A better understanding of markets came to me from an unlikely source: a book about parking. Donald Shoup’s excellent book The High Price of Free Parking argues for using market forces as tools to better manage parking.

An example is charging more for on-street parking during peak hours and charging less for parking in garages at the same time. That will encourage more drivers to park in the garage, leaving more on-street spaces available for those willing to pay extra for them. He proposes a goal of making one parking space available on each side of each block at any given time. That would allow motorists to park without having to cruise for spaces, saving time, fuel, pollution, and stress.

The details of Shoup’s proposals aside, instead of thinking of the market as god, progressives should talk about the market as tool. Therefore, the question should never be whether markets are good or bad but what markets are good for and bad at. How should we use markets, and who should benefit from them?

For example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act attempts to use market forces to improve Americans’ access to quality health insurance. The government creates standards of quality and fairness and marketplaces for buying and selling insurance, and the insurance companies do the rest. It is an attempt to use markets to advance the health and wellbeing of Americans.

When extreme conservatives complain about government interference in the free market, progressives could reply (if they can say so truly) that government is providing the market structure that both companies and customers need so they know what behavior is and is not acceptable. This allows them to do business with confidence that they are being treated fairly and not ripped off or harmed. This confidence makes business possible. I think progressives should frame this as market-confidence building.

How do you think progressives should talk about markets?

Framing the Individual Mandate


This refers to the expectation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that Americans that do not already have health insurance get it. Those that remain uninsured would pay a fine.

I think that supporters of the PPACA should avoid this phrase because it frames the expectation as big, bad government forcing people to do what they don’t want to do.

What if instead we frame having adequate health insurance as a civic duty? This duty helps ensure that all Americans can get the medical care we need . When we all have health insurance, we are taking care of both ourselves and our fellow Americans. That is right and responsible.

Shirking this duty would mean risking leaving medical bills unpaid and bankruptcy for ourselves. It also could mean higher costs for everyone else. This would be reckless and unfair. Because shirking imposes costs on others, it’s fair to charge a fine.

What difference would it make if we reframed this part of the PPACA from a mandate to a duty?
What difference would it make if we reframed this part of the PPACA from a mandate to a duty?

Instead of calling this part of PPACA the individual mandate, here are some potential alternatives:

  • The expectation of having health insurance (or health insurance expectation)
  • The duty of having health insurance (or health insurance duty)
  • The coverage expectation

What do you think this responsibility should be called?

Affordable Care Act

The phrase "Affordable Care Act" brings to mind money and commerce.
The phrase “Affordable Care Act” brings to mind money and commerce.

An abbreviation of the name of the new healthcare law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, this phrase defines the issue as the affordability of medical care. Use of this abbreviation has helped sow doubt about the law’s value following media reports that, while many Americans can expect lower health insurance premiums, others may see higher premiums.

Supporters should avoid calling the law by this name. Instead, when shortening the name, use the first two words, the Patient Protection Act. This directs the hearer’s attention away from money and toward the law’s moral mission: protecting Americans from abuse by health-insurance companies and from bankruptcy and other injury due to lack of adequate health insurance. This moral mission is what the law’s supporters should talk about.

I think it’s unwise to call the law Obamacare and will post about that this week.

The phrase "Patient Protection Act" brings to mind defending the vulnerable.
The phrase “Patient Protection Act” brings to mind defending the vulnerable.