A glossary of words, phrases, and slogans to be uttered at the televised White House health summit.

How to fix health policy.
Feb. 26 2010 3:40 PM

Health Summit Cheat Sheet

A glossary of health reform words, phrases, and slogans.

Click here for a guide to following the health care reform story online.

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(There is no health reform jargon that begins with "Q.")


Rationing. Scare term used by Republicans to oppose health reform. In fact, the bill imposes no direct rationing at all. Indirect rationing is imposed by the market all the time through the pricing of health insurance and denial of benefits.

Reconciliation. A legislative procedure, permitted on bills thataffect the federal budget, allowing a bill to pass the Senate with a simple 51-vote majority—no filibusters allowed. The White House has signaled its interest in trying to pass health reform this way. The Web site Open Left is keeping a whip count  of senators who favor reconciliation. Republicans pretend this is unprecedented for social legislation, but they did it with welfare reform. The GOP and Fox News have propagandistically labeled reconciliation a "nuclear option," but the nuclear option is actually something different. (See "Nuclear option.")


Reinsurance. Insurance for insurers. Another favored Republican solution to the health care crisis.

Rescission. You get really sick. Your insurer then combs through your paperwork to see if you made some minor error in filling out your policy. If you did, they cancel your policy. It's medieval. Even Republicans want to end this.

Risk adjustment. A redistributive scheme in which insurers with sicker patients receive funds from insurers with less-sick patients. The health reform bills require the health and human services department to establish a risk adjustment process for the exchanges.

Rockefeller, Jay. Democratic West Virginia senator and the conscience of health reform. No one in Congress has more consistently talked sense on the issue. He wasn't invited initially to the Blair House meeting, but later was added to the list.

Romney, Mitt. Former Massachusetts governor and future presidential candidate, he created Obamacare's forerunner at the state level and is terrified that conservative GOP primary voters will notice.

Ryan, Paul. Republican House member from Wisconsin and ranking member of the House budget committee. Ryan has proposed eliminating Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system. This endears him to President Obama, who can use him to argue that the GOP, for all its hollering about health reform's cuts to Medicare, would like to pull the plug on it altogether.