Rotunda: Language of health care reform is revealing

2013-04-15T14:00:00Z 2013-04-17T18:57:12Z Rotunda: Language of health care reform is revealingBy JoANNE YOUNG / Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska Republican Gov. Dave Heineman wrote a column last month on an aspect of health reform -- Medicaid expansion -- and one only had to look at these repeated key words and phrases to know his position on the issue.

* Liberal advocacy groups

* Enormous and unsustainable costs

* Burden, burdened

* Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare

* Huge and unsustainable cost

* Unaffordable and unsustainable burden

* Not free federal money

* Hundreds of millions of dollars of new state spending

* Unaffordable

* Less funding for education of our children

* Higher taxes on Nebraska's middle-class families

About a week later, Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick spoke to a group of health care journalists in Boston.

Massachusetts has been, more or less, the epicenter of health care reform since then-Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006 signed health insurance reform into law, mandating that nearly every resident have a minimum level of coverage.

Patrick's speech on health reform and expanding access had a different set of key words and phrases:

* Success, great success, success

* Virtually universal coverage

* Healthier

* Lives saved

* Access to care

* Touches people

* Cost containment

* Better health, lower costs

* New care delivery models

* Affordable Care Act

* Public good

Because of Massachusetts' prior work on health reform, participation in Medicaid expansion actually would save state dollars, allow the state to be more competitive and allow for a possible tax cut.

The Nebraska Legislature will weigh in on health reform and Medicaid expansion Tuesday as it begins debate on a bill (LB577) that would require the expansion.

Chambers is legislative rock star

The Omaha senator came down the stairs, headed for his office during the lunch recess and ran headlong into a clump of young admirers.

It quickly turned into a squealing mob scene of elementary school students from St. Wenceslaus School in West Omaha. All surrounding Sen. Ernie Chambers, posing for pictures with him. Uniformed, Catholic young ones, chanting his name.

"Er-nie, Er-nie, Er-nie."

One boy reportedly endorsed him for Pope.

Not sure what touched off the aggregate adoration. But who, we ask, needs a rock star when you have the popular politician from North O?

Chambers plays a knight in this drama

During debate on a bill last week that considered a funding mechanism for state parks, Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton said she'd do what needed to be done to defeat it.

When it was Sen. Ernie Chambers' turn to speak, he said he was not Sir Galahad, but Dubas would not stand alone in trying to fight the bill.

"Sen. Dubas, the job of a knight in old days when the damsel was in distress because of a dragon, that knight had an obligation to slay the dragon," he said. "And we're going to ring down the curtain on this bill."

When Dubas had a chance at the mic again, she thanked those who stood up in support of what she was trying to do, especially Chambers.

"Although, I think I'd like to do a switch on that analogy that you made," she said. "Rather than me being your damsel in distress and you being my knight in shining armor, how about you be my Ronald Reagan and I'll be your Margaret Thatcher.

"We can partner up and go after this."

Reach JoAnne Young at 402-473-7228 or -- You can follow JoAnne's tweets at

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