Phrasing in Health Care

What you call things is incredibly important.  The words you choose carry baggage and implications that people will adopt.  The words help people remember and frame an idea.  Take for example the current Healthcare debate in the U.S.  There is so much complexity and so much riding on one single monolithic bill.  Everyone assumes that this is one-shot deal.  We either get this right or it’s another decade before we can fix the problem.

In my mind, it didn’t have to be this way.  What if Obama insisted on calling the bill: Phase 1 of 5:  Healthcare Reform.

The phase phrase is designed to say that there will be many aspects to the healthcare reform and that we are going to start working on it, one piece at a time.

If you were a lobbyist or a senator, would calling it Phase 1 change how you approach the problem?   Would you break up the issues into five categories?  How would you approach negotiations?  Lyndon Johnson pushed through Civil Rights by starting with a simple voting bill.  He knew that the goal of a crack in the dam was more important than the goal of total demolition of the structure.  You have to start somewhere.

The point is that the name of the bill implies how the process will work.  Initiatives sometimes live or die based on their names.  Choose wisely.

One reply on “Phrasing in Health Care”

I’m sorry Glen, did you not get the memo. We aren’t calling it Health Care Reform anymore. It’s not Health Insurance Reform. Please change your blog entry to reflect this new phrasing.


David Axelrod

Whatya think?