NPR logo Health Overhaul's Biggest Failing Could Be Lack Of A Catchy Name

Health Overhaul's Biggest Failing Could Be Lack Of A Catchy Name

At the March signing ceremony for the health overhaul law, Vice President Biden had an idea for what to call the historic legislation. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Some critics of the federal health overhaul can't stand its mandate requiring just about all Americans to have by 2014. Their response? Lawsuits.

Others, on the left, say the changes to the nation's health system didn't go far enough. Their response? Grumbling.

But we think both sides can probably agree on a central unsolved problem of the law: what to call it. Even the wonkiest among us rarely refer to the law by its given name: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

PPACA, you say? Or as Kaiser Health News' Marilyn Serafini asks in the Washington Post, "Puh-pack-uh? Is that some kind of llama?"

The government's website on overhaul has dropped the "patient protection" part and generally refers to the law as the Affordable Care Act. ACA, anyone? Sounds a little like the guy with a cold next to me on the Metro this morning.

Many foes of the law have labeled it Obamacare. The opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal have invoked ObamaCare (trademark pending?) more than 200 times in the last three months.

And Democratic pollsters concede that's a bit of a problem. "We do need a common narrative that includes a name," Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners told Kaiser Health News. "When Obama's job performance improves, it will be fine to call it Obamacare. Now, it is polarizing."

I'm still kind of partial to Joe Biden's salty off-mic description of the law as "a big f#@!ing deal!"

Got a better idea? Let us know in the comments.