Should we use the term “Obamacare”?

The other day, a reader told us that the term “Obamacare” has been “used by opponents to encourage hostility and partisanship.” He said AP shouldn’t use the term when referring to the U.S. Affordable Care Act.

In fact, it’s a little more complicated. While opponents of the legislation have often used “Obamacare” derisively, Obama himself, and some of his supporters, have used it. They apparently don’t consider it derogatory.

But given the various views of the term, we’ve advised our editors to allow the word mainly whenwe’re  quoting someone who uses it — not on our own. On the rare occasions we use it ourselves, we should say something like “also known as ‘Obamacare,’ ” with quotes around the word.


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About Tom Kent

Deputy managing editor and standards editor of The Associated Press, responsible for accuracy and balance across all AP news services. Frequent contributor to forums and conferences on newsroom ethics and organization. Adjunct professor at the School of International Affairs and Journalism School of Columbia University. Former AP correspondent or bureau chief in Russia, Iran, Belgium, Australia and the United States. Graduate of Yale University. Languages: French, Russian, Spanish. @tjrkent