Reframing the Language of #Trumpcare

#Taxcutsfortherichcare #Worsecare #Meancare

“Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world.” -George Lakoff

He provides further explication in his book:

“When I teach the study of framing at Berkeley, in Cognitive Science 101, the first thing I do is I give my students an exercise. The exercise is: Don’t think of an elephant! Whatever you do, do not think of an elephant. I’ve never found a student who is able to do this. Every word, like elephant, evokes a frame, which can be an image or other kinds of knowledge: Elephants are large, have floppy ears, tusks, and a trunk, live naturally in jungles, are associated with circuses, and so on. The word is defined relative to that frame.

When we negate a frame, we evoke the frame. Richard Nixon found that out the hard way. While under pressure to resign during the Watergate scandal, Nixon addressed the nation on TV. He stood before the nation and said, “I am not a crook.” And everybody thought about him as a crook.”

Lakoff goes onto describe how the Republicans are superb at “framing”. Witness the language about the Senate healthcare bill to repeal and replace Obamacare:

The “Better Care” Reconciliation Act

This is the Senate version of the GOP healthcare bill that is under consideration this week. The term “better care” would imply that it leads to better care, but according to the health policy wonks, that clearly not the case:

The “American” Health Care Act

This is the name of the GOP House bill that was passed and now sits in the Senate. It makes it sound so patriotic, despite the fact that it could leave 23 million Americans uninsured.


“It’s time to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered health care”

-Tagline on the American Health Care Act website.

“Patient-centered reforms that put the American people back in charge of their own healthcare decisions.”

-Tom Price, HHS Secretary, speaking about the Better Care Reconciliation Act

Is it patient-centered when not a single patient group supports the health bill?

This gives us a basic principle of framing: When you are arguing against the other side, do not use their language. Their language picks out a frame — and it won’t be the frame you want.

So how can we reframe the message about #Trumpcare?

Perhaps these are more accurate terms to describe the health bill:





People with disabilities who rely on home- and community-based services through Medicaid — such as personal-attendant care, skilled nursing, and specialized therapies — could lose access to the services they need in order to live independently and remain in their homes








Use the Trumpcare toolkit:

Use Resistbot:

I tweet and blog about design, healthcare, and innovation as “Doctor as Designer”. Follow me on Twitter and sign up for my newsletter.



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Doctor as Designer

Joyce Lee, MD, MPH, Physician, Designer, Researcher. #learninghealthsystems; #design for #ai; and the maker movement