The Curious Listener: To Be, Or Not To Be "Obamacare" : NPR Extra The term 'Obamacare' is being thrown around a lot this summer, and we found out that our listeners were pretty interested in finding out why we are using it in NPR reports. Check out today's Curious Listener to find out.
NPR logo The Curious Listener: To Be, Or Not To Be "Obamacare"

The Curious Listener: To Be, Or Not To Be "Obamacare"

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Katie Burk/NPR

The word 'Obamacare' is being used everywhere - TV ads, protest signs, by policymakers and even in the media. But the question remains what does that word really mean and has its meaning changed over time based on who is saying it?

Think back to terms like 'Reaganomics' and 'queer,' which once carried very different meanings than they do today. Ari Shapiro reported on Weekend Edition that a similar shift is occurring with the use of the word "Obamacare."

One listener wrote asking why and how we are using the term in NPR reports, and you can see the response below:

Mr. Conan,

I truly appreciate and enjoy your show. I am however writing to ask that you please refer to the healthcare overhaul passed by congress and upheld by the Supreme Court by its proper name, the Affordable Care Act (as opposed to "Obamacare"). NPR sets the bar high. Let's keep it there.

Many thanks,

Marfa, TX

Dear Peter,

We appreciate your feedback. Though initially the term "Obamacare" was a pejorative, it has become an increasing popular reference to the Affordable Care Act among supporters and opponents and is even now being embraced by the White House. We refer you to this Weekend Edition Saturday story about this very issue:

We appreciate your contacting us with your concerns and your thoughts have been shared with the appropriate people.

Additionally, you are welcome to share your concerns with the NPR Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is the public's representative to NPR, serving as an independent source of information, explanation, amplification and analysis for the public regarding NPR's programming. For more information about the role of the NPR Ombudsman, please visit


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