By Jennifer Haberkorn
Democrats gathered in Charlotte this week are fighting to reclaim the term "Obamacare" from the health reform law's opponents -- a symbol of their determination to embrace the health care law and defend it from Republican attacks.
"For us Democrats, Obamacare is a badge of honor," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday night, comparing it to the way Republicans have derided "Romneycare" as a "scarlet letter."
Throughout the first night of the Democratic National Convention, speakers embraced the health reform law to tout its benefits and the long fight to get the legislation through Capitol Hill. They also used the convention to push back against the Republican proposals to reform the Medicare program.
Sebelius listed some of the most popular benefits of the health reform law, including prohibitions on insurance companies from denying customers because of pre-existing conditions, coverage for preventive services, tax credits for small business, and the opportunity for young adults to remain on their parents' insurance plans through age 26.
Democrats also used the convention to spotlight first-person accounts of the law's benefits -- including Stacey Lihn, a mother from Arizona whose daughter, Zoe, struggles with a heart problem.
"Like so many moms with sick children," Lihn told the crowd, "I shed tears and I could breathe easier knowing we have that net below us to catch us if we fall, or if, God forbid, Zoe needs a heart transplant -- Obamacare provides my family security and relief."
Critics of the health law dubbed it "Obamacare" to symbolize a prominent role of the government in providing and controlling health care. In recent months, Democrats -- and even President Barack Obama -- have said they'll embrace the term.
While Obama promised shortly after the law passed that he would go across the country and defend the law, he hasn't done so to the extent that many supporters expected. But the health law played a prominent role in Tuesday's speeches.
And even Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice America and a fierce supporter of the law, used the term "Obamacare" when talking about why Gov. Mitt Romney should not be elected.
"He would repeal Obamacare, taking away our access to better maternity and prenatal care, and the law's near universal coverage of birth control," she told the convention audience on Tuesday night. "And we cannot trust Mitt Romney to respect our rights."
Democrats used the podium at their convention to push back against Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's Medicare reform proposals.
"Whether you're 65, 55, 45 or 35, you've earned your Medicare," Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) said, referring to Ryan's pledge that his plan would not change Medicare for people older than age 55.
"Americans deserve the security Medicare provides. President Obama will strengthen and protect Medicare. Democrats will make the tough choices -- the right choices -- to reduce the deficit and to preserve Medicare, for this generation and the next," Schwartz said.