Tag Archives: Affordable Care Act

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 Obamacare

The name Obamacare is meant to smear the law with doubt about Obama's legitimacy.
The name Obamacare is meant to associate the law with doubt about Obama’s legitimacy.

Coined by the law’s opponents, supporters should avoid this term. The purpose of the term is to frame the debate about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as about President Barack Obama rather than the law’s contents.

See “Affordable Care Act.”

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.