The Language of Obamacare



It all depends upon what the meaning of “is” is.


An enterprising philologist should undertake to compile a lexicon of Obamaspeak.


Here’s a useful datum, a fragment (as it were) of an Obamanese Rosetta Stone:   We all remember the oft-repeated talking point “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.  Period.”  We heard it, in just those words, scores of times, if not hundreds.  Now, though, we have a reliable translation of that line from a native speaker — perhaps, in a sense, the only native speaker — of Obamanese.  “What we said,” the President explained last night to a tough and critical crowd made up entirely of his former campaign staffers, “was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”  Thus, plainly, period, in Obamaspeak, means if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.  That’s a small step toward a comprehensive lexicon, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.  An index card entry for the Scriptorium (for people who get the historical reference).


Another linguistic reflection:  Back in 2010, Nancy Pelosi famously remarked of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”  This seems to be the sort of thing that might be said, in rather a different context, by a medical lab technician.  Does anybody out there know whether Ms. Pelosi has such a background?  I’m wondering whether we’re seeing cross-fertilization, as it were, between two specialist jargons, one referring to legislation and the other to lab specimens.


In that vein, here’s a brief piece on attempts to dismiss the lament of a California cancer patient who, thanks to Obamacare, is losing her oncologist and who fears that she will die as a result:


And finally, as a refreshing change of pace, I offer a bit of very clear and straightforward speech: .



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  • Lucy Mcgee

    The lack of medical treatment kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each year, a nation whose per capita health expenditure far exceeds that of the rest of first world nations. If you are a citizen in the US without adequate or no health insurance and you are afflicted with a life threatening illness, you may die too early, or go bankrupt or both.

    • kgbudge

      I would like to know where you get your statistics on premature death due to lack of access to medical care. I would also like to know what your projects are for premature death due to lack of access to medical care under Obamacare, under which millions have already lost their insurance coverage.

      • Lucy Mcgee

        Google search “health insurance and mortality in U.S. adults”. Prevention and early detection of disease means that all of us should have access to medical care. Tens of millions of people never receive a yearly health checkup. Once they become ill, they resort to emergency medical care, the most expensive. Most health care dollars are spent on “end of life”, which leaves out many who could benefit from even a small amount of free preventative care. The system is inverted and continues to offer huge profits to the medical industrial complex.

        I have no projections for premature death under the ACA, which I believe to be a terrible law, written by insurance companies and foisted upon our populace which forces people to buy defective insurance products with huge deductibles that will not save one from losing everything, should a major health issue arise. Have you checked the stock price of insurers like United Health, Humana, WellPoint, etc? If the ACA was such a bad deal for them, why would their stock prices be at all time highs?

        Consider those first world nations which offer EVERYONE free medical care and notice where they rank on the various world prosperity indexes.

        Each year, the US loses ground as transnational corporations transform our economy into something which devalues human life and turns everything into a commodity. The ACA is but one example of how industry controls our nation.

        • kgbudge

          ” Tens of millions of people never receive a yearly health checkup.”

          This puzzles me, because yearly checkups are covered by Medicaire:

          Also, you may not be aware, but the whole idea behind the HMO model was that the HMO would emphasize preventative care and thereby reduce later medical expenses. It turned out not to work: The preventative care cost more than it was saving in reduced treatment later. Yes, this puzzles me, too.

          • Lucy Mcgee

            Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t one have to be age 62 or older to qualify for Medicare? What about a 32 year old uninsured waitress earning $32,000 a year working two jobs who self diagnosed a breast lump? What about the 40 year old uninsured roustabout who works 70 hours a week digging ditches and cleaning oil field equipment who has skin cancer?

            There is a huge void in medical attention given to our populace. Again, have a look at the stock charts of any health care associated insurance company. What does that tell you?

          • kgbudge

            “Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t one have to be age 62 or older to qualify for Medicare?”

            I looked at Medicaid, which is supposed to provide health care for the poor, but the rules seem to differ by state. I would be surprised, though, if it did not also have provisions for checkups in most states.

            It certainly covers breast exams and skin cancer.

            What about those who are markedly worse off under Obamacare?


            Well, perhaps you need no persuading, since you say you loathe Obamacre. Great. We both loathe Obamacare. We even loathe it for similar reasons. But I suspect our prescriptions for fixing it are diametrically opposite.