Beshear: ‘The Phrase ‘Obamacare’ Has Been Demonized’

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June 17, 2014 10:45 a.m.

While explaining why his conservative state thoroughly embraced health care reform, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) said Tuesday that part of his strategy was avoiding the word “Obamacare” — which, he said, “has been demonized.”

“The phrase ‘Obamacare’ has been demonized,” Beshear said during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., hosted by the pro-Obamacare Enroll America group. “When you say, ‘Obamacare,’ it creates the immediate partisan reaction.”

Past polling has repeatedly demonstrated that Americans are more hostile toward “Obamacare” than they are toward “the Affordable Care Act.” One poll found that support for health care reform skyrocketed among even Republicans when they were asked about the latter versus the former. Another poll showed the same phenomenon when Arkansans were asked about their state’s unique Medicaid expansion plan. Support increased dramatically if ‘Obamacare’ was left out of the question.

That might help explain why, though the law blew past its prior enrollment expectations and polls routinely show that Americans support keeping and fixing it instead of repealing it, actual approval of Obamacare has remained lukewarm.

Opposition to the law has become very strongly linked to its eponymous president, rather than the policy itself, as the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Drew Altman explained at the same panel. That ignites partisanship.

“The ACA has become a poster child for a larger debate between the left and the right,” Altman said Tuesday.

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