THE BLOG
08/14/2015 01:34 pm ET Updated Aug 14, 2016

"Obamacare" ...Not! The Name is the Affordable Care Act

SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

I have a problem with the use of the term "Obamacare"- and here is why.

When I watched the first Republican debate on Fox News, I noted how often the candidates used the term "Obamacare". The phrase was used as if it were a battering ram to a castle door in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, or a red flag being waved in front of the running bulls in Pamplona.

As I watched, I was reminded just how uncomfortable I am with the use of the term; and why as a professional social worker, I always make a point to correct it and admonish those who do, frankly.

The legislation is correctly called the Affordable Health Care Act.

It is not a welfare program, which is inferred when some people hear and use the term "Obamacare". The broader inference is that the President unilaterally implemented the Affordable Care Act, which he did not.

Understanding the use (or misuse) of terms is described by esteemed theologian Dr. Ben Witherington III who once said, "A text without a context is just a pretext for whatever you want it to mean." In this case, Witherington was discussing the way one reads the New Testament without understanding the times in which it was written.

In my role as a social work educator for more than three decades, I've repeatedly found that the times matter as much as the nomenclature does. I often tell my social policy class students that correct terminology and context are not only important, they are pivotal when it comes to advocating on behalf of one's clients.

How easily it is overlooked that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act as law in a 6-3 decision during the court's last session.

History is full of examples where U.S. Presidents have implemented mammoth and sweeping reforms that are not treated in this derisive manner. Reforms such as the Social Security Act, which is never referred to as "Rooseveltcare"; the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Act have never been referred to as "Johnson Acts", or Medicare as "Johnsoncare"; and The United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (or PEPFAR as it is known), enacted by President George H. Bush, is not referred to as the "Bush Plan."

One example of an act that does comes to mind bearing the name of a U.S. President's name is the Monroe Doctrine which established the concept of the United States and its "manifest destiny" - and helped to establish Americas global dominance.

Manifested destiny is definitely NOT the point being made when people use the term "Obamacare."

Adding to the complexity of this argument is the fact that the President has himself co-opted the term, seemingly to take the negative connotations out and replacing them with a positive way. Indeed, Obama does care. However, use of the term by many others - most of whom have their own private or government subsidized health care insurance - does not reflect this view. Rather, it represents yet another instance in which a certain segment of society can vilify and disrespect the President.

As a nation, it is time for the incivility and disrespect that has been heaped upon this president to come to an end; it is also time for the patent disrespect of our nations laws and processes to cease.

Most importantly, it is time for some folks to just "move on and get over it" and accept the fact that the Affordable Health Care Act is the law of the land.