‘Obamacare’ or ‘Affordable Care Act’?

What’s in a name? Everything when it comes to polling about the health care law, officially known as the Affordable Care Act.

In a new Fox News poll, 55 percent of those surveyed held an unfavorable view of the new law when the pollster referred to it as the Affordable Care Act. But when the name was replaced by “Obamacare,” the negative opinion increased to 60 percent.

Seventy-five percent of Republicans viewed the Affordable Care Act unfavorably — that jumped to 83 percent when “Obamacare” was used.

It was just one question on a lengthy poll, but it gives additional importance to a growing question inside newsrooms: Should it be referred to as “Obamacare?”

Recently, NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos addressed the complaints he gets on the point. Schumacher-Matos, once an opponent of using “Obamacare,” now is in favor of it, based on a response he got to the question from NPR’s managing editor for standards and practice.

Republicans coined the term “Obamacare” during the debate over the Affordable Care Act, seemingly as a means to generate opposition to the president’s health care initiative. During that time, NPR avoided using the term “Obamacare.”

Since passage of the legislation and its enactment into law, the president has said he rather likes the term “Obamacare” and it has gradually come into the vernacular as a shorthand for referring to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

I’m confident that NPR listeners and readers understand that whatever its origins, the term “Obamacare” has lost its pedigree as a politically charged term.

For its part, the White House seems to alternate the use of “Obamacare” with the Affordable Care Act.