US Health & Human Services Secretary Resigns

 US Health & Human Services Secretary Resigns

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for the Affordable Care Act. (Pictured: President Obama, former US Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius)

After a mortifying rollout, the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is finally in place. Over 7 million Americans have signed up, a number higher than the original goal, and President Obama’s legacy – healthcare for all – seems underway. The act narrowly survived constant attack by Republicans, not to mention its own faulty website. However, one casualty that no amount of healthcare could fix was the reputation of US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and its effect on the ACA.

Obamacare was under Sebelius’s watch, and she largely took the fall, rightly or not, willingly or not, for the severely flawed rollout. It was Sebelius, facing an angry mob of senators, who had to admit that Healthcare.gov, the ACA website where most Americans were to sign up, had barely been tested before going live. Damage control appearances caused even more damage, especially an uncomfortable appearance on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. All of it was fuel for Republicans determined to repeal the ACA.

Sebelius, a former governor of Kansas who was once a contender for vice president in 2008, was a likely candidate for termination after the ACA rollout fiasco. The question is now whether the falling ax will do further harm to an already tarnished initiative.

THE PR VERDICT: “C” (Distinctly OK) for the Affordable Care Act.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Know when to let sleeping dogs lie, especially when they’re vicious. Letting Sebelius go during the worst of the ACA’s rollout would have caused even more turmoil for Obamacare. Her resignation comes on a high note of above-goal enrollment; the best timing for a bad situation. Now Sylvia Mathews Burwell, formerly director of the Office of Management and Budget, suits up against Republicans bent on finding chinks in the armor of the ACA. It’s a tough job; just ask Kathleen Sebelius.

You say Obamacare, I say Obamacare

obamacare You say Obamacare, I say Obamacare

The PR Verdict: "A" for both sides using the same word for opposing reasons.

What’s in a name?  Yesterday the US Supreme Court began a review of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

Obamacare has become a derogatory term used by Republicans to fire up the conservative tea-party base.  Michelle Bachmann, prior to pulling out of the debates used it no less that 230 times in media appearances.  Fox News repeated the word over 300 times in the last three weeks.  In PR terms, Obamacare became shorthand for galvanising opposition and laying full blame for “socialised medicine” at Obama’s door.

Democrats protested use of the word, considering it a disparaging reference and opposed its use in congressional debates.  But then something changed.  Democrats have finally recognized the PR gift handed to them.  It’s now going to be used by the President and his PR campaigners as they head into the election.

The PR Verdict: “A”  for both sides using the same word for opposing reasons.  With one word Republicans successfully galvanised opposition.  Meanwhile Democrats have sensibly decided if you can’t beat em join them.

Obama kicked off changing terminology by saying he has “no problem” with people saying ‘Obama cares.”  Nine months later the Obama camp has started a Twitter campaign  “If you’re proud of Obama care and tired of the other side using it as a dirty word, complete this sentence  “ I like Obamacare because…..”  Going from dirty word to a halo word is the new PR challenge for the Democrats while keeping it a dirty word will now be the PR task for  Republicans.

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