The right way to frame the Affordable Care Act

If you watch or listen to the Republicans and much of the mainstream media, you might think that the Affordable Care Act is nothing but a website that is having problems. However, Nicholas Kristof published an op-ed in the New York Times last Saturday that sets the record straight, and shows us how to frame the Affordable Care Act properly. Entitled “This is Why We Need Obamacare,” Kristof’s piece starts off in the first sentence mentioning “Richard Streeter, 47, a truck driver and recreational vehicle repairman in Eugene, Ore.” See how Kristof follows Messaging Maxim #5: Make it Personal? It seems Mr. Streeter lost his employer-based health insurance in 2008, could not get his own affordable insurance, and became uninsured. As a result, Streeter then put off going to doctors despite having some painful symptoms, and eventually was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.

According to Kristof, Mr. Streeter is one of “nearly 50 million Americans without insurance who play health care Russian roulette as a result.” Citing healthcare advocacy group FamiliesUSA, Kristof writes that “an American dies every 20 minutes for lack of insurance.” Then Kristof makes it even more personal. He writes that “[i]t has been a year since my college roommate, Scott Androes, died of prostate cancer, in part because he didn’t have insurance and thus didn’t see a doctor promptly.” And here’s the money shot from Kristof: quoting Dr. J. Scott Gibson, who diagnosed Richard Streeter’s colon cancer:

“Website problems are a nuisance,” Dr. Gibson said. “Life and death is when you need care and can’t afford to get it.

Kristof writes that Mr. Streeter’s one bright spot is that he has now been able to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act beginning next January 1. However, “[f]or him, the tragedy isn’t that the Obamacare rollout has been full of glitches, but that it may have come too late to save his life.”

Kristof’s op-ed is a prime example of framing the Affordable Care Act not as a website that has inconvenient glitches, which is how the Republicans would like us to regard “Obamacare,” but as a new law that literally will mean the difference between life and death for many Americans, including people that many of us know personally.


One Response to The right way to frame the Affordable Care Act
  1. Vice President
    December 10, 2014 | 5:34 pm

    Vice President

    The right way to frame the Affordable Care Act | Messaging Matters

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