Pennsylvania lawmakers have said proposing a constitutional amendment to block the federal health care law is largely symbolic, as such amendments are notoriously heavy lifts. Yet what began as a debate of symbols is becoming a debate of semantics.
The White House may have come to embrace the term “Obamacare” as the shorthand moniker for the federal Affordable Care Act, but Democrats in the state Senate aren’t quite there yet.
During floor debate, Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, tried to ban the use of the word “Obamacare,” arguing that it’s not politically correct.
“What it does do is characterize a particular partisan perspective of policy that is actually law in this country,” Williams said.
Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, says the term isn’t overly partisan, because it’s become common parlance among “all” of the constituents in his district.
“They call it Obamacare. Republican, Democrats, independents, seniors, everyone,” Scarnati said. “So, if indeed we’re slighting anyone, just grow up.”
About an hour later, the Senate approved the bill, sending it to the House for a concurrence vote.
Even sponsor Scarnati has acknowledged that his bill to block the federal health-care law in the commonwealth is largely symbolic.
It would need to pass in the Legislature twice, and then clear a voter referendum.