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Approximately six months after President Barack Obama signed it into law, health care reform is now a political threat to Democrats — and an opportunity for Republicans.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has become a heated issue between Republicans, who attack those who supported the bill, and Democrats, who wish to not be viewed as big spenders in a recession.

In a Sept. 10 article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Annenberg School for Communication professor and political communications expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson said Republicans have framed what is now being called “Obamacare” as a problem to be solved by a Republican congress.

“Because the Obama team has failed to concentrate public attention on the ways in which health care reform is helping Americans cope with the recession, the public sees the costs but not the beneficial economic consequences” of the reform, Jamieson is quoted as saying.

Political analyst and St. Joseph’s University history professor Randall Miller agreed with Jamieson’s sentiment that Republicans are in control of the issue.

“Republicans … are framing it in a way that emphasizes cost to individuals and are framing it as a threat to constitutional rights,” Miller said, adding that the attorneys general of several states — including Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett, who is also the Republican gubernatorial candidate — have filed lawsuits against the federal government.

Meanwhile, Miller said, Democrats have done little to highlight the benefits of the legislation — such as allowing coverage under a parent’s health insurance plan until the age of 26.

According to Penn Democrats President and College junior Emma Ellman-Golan, the health care legislation has indeed gotten a “bad rap.”

Miller is “probably correct that Democrats are not making a huge issue out of it,” Ellman-Golan said. Republicans, by contrast, “are going to make a huge deal of it,” she said, adding that because of the benefits she perceives the legislation to carry, “it’s hard for me to understand why someone would use the legislation accusatorily.”

As to how Republicans were able to take control of the issue, “I think a lot of it was [former Alaska Gov. Sarah] Palin’s death panel threats — people thought something about the end-of-life care that was incorrect,” Ellman-Golan said.

According to Penn College Republicans President and Engineering junior Peter Terpeluk, however, Republicans are merely appealing to “common sense principles.”

“No one likes to have something forced upon them, and that’s what happened,” Terpeluk said. “The message sent was ‘we know better than you.’ Clearly, the pulse of America was not with Congress.”

Miller believes the key to Republican dominance in the area has been seizing the issue early “and selling the idea that it, to use a health metaphor, will afflict us with the loss of money and loss of liberty.”

Miller also predicted that the health care legislation will work in the Republicans’ favor this November, judging by this year’s primary elections.

“Republicans have done very well — and among Republicans, the most conservative did very well. It would surprise me if they didn’t go forward with that,” Miller said.

Terpeluk agreed. “I think the overwhelming majority of Americans dislike the legislation, judging by the polls. It would be in the Republicans’ best interest to campaign on overturning Obamacare,” he said.

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