• “Health care” vs. “healthcare”

    I so rarely read a full post on the Health Care Blog because, despite my prodding, it doesn’t offer a full feed (seriously, guys, get with it!). So, it has to catch my interest with a good title. Today, they got me, and I was treated to a very entertaining post on linguistics by Michael Millenson. As you can tell from the title of this post, it’s about “health care” vs. “healthcare.”

    Millenson’s historical analysis is riveting. I won’t spoil it. And then wraps it up with the following delightful paragraphs:

    However, I think a tipping point for fusing “health” and “care” was reached with the federal legislation setting up the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at the end of 1999. AHRQ was a renamed and refocused version of the old Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, created in 1989. AHCPR, in turn, had almost been named the Agency for Health Care Research and Policy until an alert Senate staffer realized that the abbreviation would be pronounced, “ah, crap.”

    Speaking of abbreviations, Tom Scully, the first administrator of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, once explained to me why it is known as CMS, not CMMS. It seems that Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson wanted an agency name with a catchy three-letter abbreviation, like FTC or CIA, to replace the old HCFA (Health Care Financing Administration). So a legal opinion was obtained from the HHS counsel that employing an ampersand to separate the words “Medicare” and “Medicaid” permitted the use of the CMS designation. Some might suspect this Solomonic ruling of caving in to a bit of pressure from above.

    Which brings us to God. Some years back, the AP decided that while “God” would remain capitalized (the pope was not similarly blessed), the second reference would be “his,” not “His.” As influential as the AP might be in this world, those concerned with a Higher Authority still write about God as if He were something more than an ordinary man.

    I keep waiting for the AP editor who made that decision to be struck down with lightning by the Deity. But, on the other hand, She may have a sense of humor.

    See the Healthcare [sic :)] Blog for the rest. You won’t find it all in your Reader, sadly.

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